New classes of aircraft, providing personal, on-demand mobility, are under development and are poised to revolutionize short-duration air travel. The impetus for this work comes from advances in electronics and controls, and increases in electric motor power densities. As these aircraft are integrated into the transportation system, they will encounter icing conditions that may challenge the design performance of these vehicles. This effort will map a patented algorithmic icing detection scheme, previously developed for use on the Navy’s V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, to the propeller/rotor systems for this category of air vehicle, with extensions for using measurements on the electric motor itself to infer both icing level and icing growth during flight operations. By focusing the detection filter to the lift/propulsion subsystem, the detection algorithm may be hosted directly within the motor control processor electronics, thus allowing for distributed icing sensing concomitant with such vehicle’s distributed propulsion configurations. As these VTOL vehicles are dominated by lifting propeller/rotors, the determination of the level of icing on this important component for these aircraft will enhance safety and may be used for icing mitigation and/or vehicle flight guidance. The proposed work plan includes an icing tunnel test demonstration of the technology on a representative lift/propulsion subsystem and culminates with flight testing of a UAS platform in a natural icing environment.
Support NASA’s strategic objectives of increasing safety, promoting growth in operations, particularly for low-carbon propulsion vehicles (ARMD’s Thrust 1 and 4). Enhance safety via improved icing detection on electric powered air vehicles. Extend icing accretion analysis toolchains for simulation of flight vehicles with distributed and disparate propulsion and lift systems. Increase capability for self-aware vehicles with enhanced autonomy for mitigating off-nominal flight condition effects.
Provide in-flight icing monitoring on key lift/propulsion systems for personal/on-demand aircraft, as well as autonomous UAV systems. Couple to on-board systems for actuation of anti-icing and de-icing systems. Support flight condition monitoring and guidance systems for directing or commanding profiles to depart sensed icing environment.