The project moves starting from a very simple concept: let us think of an airplane as a great body with its end structures that could have the possibility to change their shape as they had internal nerve endings and muscles.
The aerodynamic shape of aircraft lifting surfaces must change during the flight, owing to the aerodynamic requirements of the different maneuvers (ascent and descent operations, yaw). Mobile surfaces are introduced in conventional wings to this purpose (ailerons, flaps, slats etc.), introducing at the same time inevitably additional weight, mechanisms, sources of vibrations and other well known limits.
An interesting alternative to mobile surfaces could be represented by “self shaping wings”, i.e. wings the surface of which can be elastically deformed through its entire length, and managed in order to obtain the required lifting profile. Such wing performances could be obtained through the application of composite hybrid materials where layers of new generation of piezoelectric fibers are drowned, and trigged by relatively low voltage.
Target of the research is the deep understanding of the technical feasibility and of the limits of such an application. Depending on the results, “self shaping wings” (or “Future Wings”) could be more deeply investigated and designed in order to replace ailerons, slats, tail wings, rudders and, probably, even flaps: the relevant technology could have really wide fields of applications (helicopter rotor blades, satellite panels, etc.).
Project objectives will be pursued developing at first theoretical models and computational new generation algorithms aimed at designing, optimizing and afterwards manufacturing a scaled model of “Future Wing” on which experimental tests will be carried out in order to understand the viability of the original idea, which has the potential to bring a radical new approach to the design of flying vehicles lifting surfaces configuration.
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