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Journal Articles Journal of Aircraft Year : 2017

Performance improvement of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles through gust energy harvesting

Abstract

Fixed-wing miniature aerial vehicles usually fly at low altitudes that are often exposed to turbulent environments. Gust soaring is a flight technique of energy harvesting in such a complex and stochastic domain. The presented work shows the feasibility and benefits of exploiting a nonstationary environment for a small unmanned aerial vehicle. A longitudinal dynamics trajectory is derived, showing significant benefits in extended flight with a sinusoidal wind profile. An optimization strategy for active control is performed, with the aim of obtaining the most effective set of gains for energy retrieval. Moreover, a three-dimensional multipoint model confirms the feasibility of energy harvesting in a more complex spatial wind field. The influence of unsteady aerodynamics is determined on the overall energy gain along the flight path with active proportional control. The aerodynamic derivatives describing the contribution to lift by a change in angle of attack and elevator deflection are identified as the most contributing aerodynamic parameters for energy harvesting in a gusty environment, and are therefore suggested as a basic objective function of an unmanned aerial vehicle design for such a flight strategy.
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Dates and versions

hal-01667354 , version 1 (19-12-2017)

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Nikola Gavrilovic, Emmanuel Bénard, Philippe Pastor, Jean-Marc Moschetta. Performance improvement of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles through gust energy harvesting. Journal of Aircraft, 2017, pp. 1-14. ⟨10.2514/1.C034531⟩. ⟨hal-01667354⟩
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