Abstract

Following significant effort over the past several years by AFRL and NASA, the X-56A flight vehicle has proven to be a useful platform for exploring controllers and distributed actuation on a flexible, swept flying-wing. The program sought to advance the state of the art in airworthiness for vehicles encountering flutter, leading to relaxed design constraints that could drastically decrease structural weight and improve aircraft performance. Specifically, the vehicle was designed to encounter different forms of flutter: body-freedom flutter, and wing-bending torsion flutter, making it an ideal candidate for identifying dynamic actuation challenges. Flight testing led to fundamental observations by controller designers about the actuation needs for such a vehicle. Namely, the small inherent actuator deadband led to significant constant-amplitude limit cycle oscillations of the system during post-flutter controlled flight. This work captures these observations by exploring theoretical changes in the actuators via a nonlinear simulation tuned with flight testing data and shows that a 60% reduction in actuator deadband can improve ride quality by nearly 50%. The results are combined into a set of actuation challenges for the adaptive structures community at large, including precise actuation for a large number of cycles over multiple timescales, with a relevant baseline described by original actuation system.

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