A team of engineers has built and tested a radically new kind of wing of the aircraft, assembled from hundreds of tiny identical bits. The wings can change the shape to control the flight of the aircraft, and can provide a significant increase in airplane production, flight and service efficiency, say researchers.
A new approach to wing design can allow greater flexibility in the design and production of a future aircraft. The new wing design has been tested in the NASA aerodynamic tube and described today in the Smart Materials and Structures magazine, co-authored by engineer-researcher Nicholas Kramer from NASA Ames in California; MIT graduate Kenneth Cheung SM & # 39; 07 PhD # 12; now at NASA Ames; Benjamin Jenett, postgraduate student at the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms; and eight others.
Instead of requiring separate moving surfaces, such as elephants, to control the shaft and lifting height of an airplane, as is the case with conventional wings, the new assembly system allows deforming the entire wing or its parts to include in its structure a mixture of rigid and flexible components. The tiny knots, which are interconnected, form an open, lightweight lattice frame, then covered with a thin layer of a similar polymeric material, like a skeleton. "width =" 777 "height =" 517 "class =" size-large wp-image-57762 "srcset =" https://scitechdaily.com/images/A-New-Kind-of-Airplane-Wing-777×517. jpg 777w, https://scitechdaily.com/images/A-New-Kind-of-Airplane-Wing-300×200.jpg 300w, https://scitechdaily.com/images/A-New-Kind-of-Airplane- Wing-768×511.jpg 768w, https://scitechdaily.com/images/A-New-Kind-of-Airplane-Wing.jpg 948w "sizes =" (max-width: 777px) 100vw, 777px "/>
Janett explains that for each of the phases flight – take-off and landing, cruise, maneuvering, etc. – each has its own, different set of optimal wing parameters, so the usual wing is definitely a compromise that is not optimized for any of them and the same hang on with efficiency. A warp that is constantly deformed can provide a much better approximation of the best configuration for each stage.
Although it would be possible to include engines and cables for the production of forces necessary for the deformation of the wings, the team took this step further and developed a system that automatically responds to changes in aerodynamic load conditions, changing its shape – a kind of self-regulation process, a passive wing -configuration
"We can achieve efficiency by matching the shape of the cargo at different angles of attack," says Craimer, author of the article. "We are able to produce exactly the same behavior that you would do actively, but we did it passively."
This is achieved by carefully designing the relative positions of racks of varying degrees of flexibility or rigidity, designed so that the wing or its areas leaned in a special way
Cheung and others demonstrated basic the principle a few years ago, producing a wing about a meter long, comparable to the size of typical models with remote control. The new version, about ten times longer, comparable in size to the wing of this single-spacecraft and can be easy to manufacture.
Although this version was hand-picked by a postgraduate team, the recurring process was designed to be easy to implement by swarming small, simple, autonomous assembly robots.
Separate parts for the previous wing were cut using a hydro-abrasive cutting system, and it took a few minutes to make each part, says Janet. The new system uses pressure-casting with a polyethylene resin in a complex 3-D form, and produces each part – in essence, a hollow cube consisting of foam sizes of a match, for each edge – in just 17 seconds, he says, which brings him a long time
"Now we have a way of producing," he says. While investing in tools in the future, as soon as this is done, "parts are cheap," he says. "We have boxes and boxes out of them, all the same."
The resulting grating, he said, has a density of 5.6 kg per cubic meter. For comparison, rubber has a density of about 1500 kilograms per cubic meter. "They have the same rigidity, but we have less than about one thousandth density," says Janet.
Since the overall configuration of a wing or other structure is constructed from tiny divisions, it does not really matter what shape. "You can make any desired geometry," he says. "The fact that most airplanes have the same shape" is, in fact, a pipe with wings – it's due to costs. This is not always the most effective form. "But massive investment in design, tools and production processes makes it easier to work with long-established configurations.