- Flow Control
Active or passive aerodynamic flow control is a method of manipulating a flow field to produce a desired change in the flow behavior. It is proven that this process produce more desirable performance characteristics from an aerodynamic geometry. Flow control has been used to achieve delay laminar-turbulent transition, delay boundary-layer separation, enhance lift and/or reduce drag of an aerodynamic body and reduce noise. Flow control can be utilized to enable substantial improvements in aerodynamic performance, making it an appealing technology for future air vehicle development. Active flow control can be used to achieve improved lift capabilities at lower speeds, greater control authority provided by control surfaces, shorter takeoff/landing field requirements, increased vehicle versatility and aerodynamic efficiency.
2. Morphing Wing Design
The word morph comes from the Greek word "morphos", which means shape. Morph indicates the ability to transform shape or structure. A morphing wing is more competitive compared to the conventional fixed-wing design as it allows an airplane to perform more effectively. An aircraft with a morphing wing can change the geometric shape of its wing during flight and optimize its performance based on mission requirements. The overarching idea of a morphing wing is to adapt its aerodynamic shape to each flight condition to improve performance during a flight envelope, flight control and flight range.In addition to aerodynamic performance, the cost and complexity of design, manufacture and maintenance can be reduced by replacing specific mission tailored aircraft designs with a single type of morphing aircraft.
3. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used in a wide variety of applications that include aerial photography, product delivery, search and rescue, wildlife surveys, weather monitoring, agriculture and aerial crop surveys, construction, journalism, law enforcement, military reconnaissance, and visual inspection of infrastructure like bridges, roads, and power lines. UAVs range in size from insect-scale that fit in the palm of your hand to bigger aircraft that can carry heavy payloads. Safety and reliability are increasingly important design challenges since UAVs are being integrated with the National Airspace. UAV research at UAH is focused on aircraft design, reconfigurable UAVs and Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) configurations. Projects in the area of aircraft design include the development of distributed electric propulsion aircraft.