Autonomous Soaring for Improved Endurance of a Small Uninhabited Air Vehicle
- Allen, Michael J.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
- Restrictions on Access:
- Unclassified, Unlimited, Publicly available.
- A relatively unexplored method to improve the endurance of an autonomous aircraft is to use buoyant plumes of air found in the lower atmosphere called thermals or updrafts. Glider pilots and birds commonly use updrafts to improve range, endurance, or cross-country speed. This report presents a quantitative analysis of a small electric-powered uninhabited air vehicle using updrafts to extend its endurance over a target location. A three-degree-of-freedom simulation of the uninhabited air vehicle was used to determine the yearly effect of updrafts on performance. Surface radiation and rawinsonde balloon measurements taken at Desert Rock, Nevada, were used to determine updraft size, strength, spacing, shape, and maximum height for the simulation. A fixed-width spiral path was used to search for updrafts at the same time as maintaining line-of-sight to the surface target position. Power was used only when the aircraft was flying at the lower-altitude limit in search of updrafts. Results show that an uninhabited air vehicle with a nominal endurance of 2 hours can fly a maximum of 14 hours using updrafts during the summer and a maximum of 8 hours during the winter. The performance benefit and the chance of finding updrafts both depend on what time of day the uninhabited air vehicle is launched. Good endurance and probability of finding updrafts during the year was obtained when the uninhabited air vehicle was launched 30 percent into the daylight hours after sunrise each day. Yearly average endurance was found to be 8.6 hours with these launch times.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20050041655. and AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit; 10-13 Jan. 2005; Reno, NV; United States.
- No Copyright.
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