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Viscous-Inviscid Methods in Unsteady Aerodynamic Analysis of Bio-Inspired Morphing Wings Open Access

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Flight has been one of the greatest realizations of human imagination, revolutionizing communication and transportation over the years. This has greatly influenced the growth of technology itself, enabling researchers to communicate and share their ideas more effectively, extending the human potential to create more sophisticated systems. While the end product of a sophisticated technology makes our lives easier, its development process presents an array of challenges in itself. In last decade, scientists and engineers have turned towards bio-inspiration to design more efficient and robust aerodynamic systems to enhance the ability of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to be operated in cluttered environments, where tight maneuverability and controllability are necessary. Effective use of UAVs in domestic airspace will mark the beginning of a new age in communication and transportation. The design of such complex systems necessitates the need for faster and more effective tools to perform preliminary investigations in design, thereby streamlining the design process. This thesis explores the implementation of numerical panel methods for aerodynamic analysis of bio-inspired morphing wings. Numerical panel methods have been one of the earliest forms of computational methods for aerodynamic analysis to be developed. Although the early editions of this method performed only inviscid analysis, the algorithm has matured over the years as a result of contributions made by prominent aerodynamicists. The method discussed in this thesis is influenced by recent advancements in panel methods and incorporates both viscous and inviscid analysis of multi-flap wings. The surface calculation of aerodynamic coefficients makes this method less computationally expensive than traditional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solvers available, and thus is effective when both speed and accuracy are desired. The morphing wing design, which consists of sequential feather-like flaps installed over the upper and lower surfaces of a standard airfoil, proves to be an effective alternative to standard control surfaces by increasing the flight capability of bird-scale UAVs. The results obtained for this wing design under various flight and flap configurations provide insight into its aerodynamic behavior, which enhance the maneuverability and controllability. The overall method acts as an important tool to create an aerodynamic database to develop a distributed control system for autonomous operation of the multi-flap morphing wing, supporting the use of viscous-inviscid methods as a tool in rapid aerodynamic analysis.

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