Aerodynamic Performance Estimation of Camber Morphing Airfoils for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
ABSTRACT: This paper proposes a methodology to harvest the benefits of camber morphing airfoils for small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV) applications. Camber morphing using discrete elements was used to morph the base airfoil, which was split into two, three, and four elements, respectively, to achieve new configurations, into the target one. . In total, thirty morphed airfoil configurations were generated and tested for aerodynamic efficiency at the Reynolds numbers of 2.5 × 105 and 4.8 × 105, corresponding to loiter and cruise Reynolds numbers of a typical SUAV. The target airfoil performance could be closely achieved by combinations of 5 to 8 morphed configurations, the best of which were selected from a pool of thirty morphed airfoil configurations for the typical design specifications of SUAV. Interestingly, some morphed airfoil configurations show a reduction in drag coefficient of 1.21 to 15.17% compared to the target airfoil over a range of flight altitudes for cruise and loiter phases. Inspired by the drag reductions observed, a case study is presented for resizing a SUAV accounting for the mass addition due to the morphing system retaining the benefits of drag reduction.