Developments in aircraft technology are expanding the aircraft design space in ways that would lead to vehicles controlled by large numbers of control effectors. With large numbers of leading edge and trailing edge flaps, distributed propulsion, thrust vectoring of multiple thrusters, and other aerodynamic control effectors such as active flow control devices, the growing variety of aerodynamic, aeroservoelastic, and propulsive controllers for new configurations, if integrated into the multidisciplinary design optimization of revolutionary flight vehicles from the start of the design, may lead to major improvements in aircraft performance and to new capabilities not possible with current designs. Simultaneously, advancements in computing power, mathematical modeling of aerospace systems, and in methods of large-scale optimization promise to make it practical to integrate the synthesis of distributed control systems into the multidisciplinary design optimization of aircraft from very early in the design, covering, in addition to optimal control, all other key disciplines. The proposed work will develop methods and create computational tools that would allow integration of automatic control based on large numbers of control effectors of different types into the multidisciplinary design optimization of aircraft. Key elements of the new contribution would focus on the control of aircraft based on large numbers of control effectors from both the control perspective (how to make such control synthesis “design oriented” and practical) and from the physics modeling perspective (how to base the optimization process on mathematical models of the coupled systems that capture, with high-fidelity, their physical behavior well). Design tradeoffs that the new computational capability would lead to will be based on reliable high-fidelity modeling and associated reduced order models in all disciplines, including aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, and control system hardware.
The proposed development will contribute to NASA multidisciplinary design optimization studies of a variety of aircraft configurations of current and future interest controlled by many control effectors, including variable camber continuous trailing edge wings, distributed propulsion, morphing supersonic configurations, etc. NASA will benefit from the new technology by either using the numerical capabilities developed or by integrating selected modules of the new capabilities into NASA’s multidisciplinary optimization environment.
The new technology will create numerical capabilities not yet available for multidisciplinary design of aircraft controlled by many control effectors. All developers of new aircraft utilizing active control of large numbers of control effectors would benefit. Customers of the new capability will be able to also integrate its key modules into their multidisciplinary design optimization systems.