#科技头条#【可变形机翼,未来的航空科技】

#科技头条#【可变形机翼,未来的航空科技】以往的机翼设计是通过机械控制结构来实现控制空气流动,这样的机翼不能产生平滑的空气动力表面,机械结构沉重并且占据了很大的空间,而MIT与NASA合作研发的这款可以变形的机翼材料,是一块整合的整体,通过对小结构件的组合来实现整体的变形。这种新的设计可以实现最大效率的减轻重量并符合空气动力学,将会成为未来的主流机翼设计。

The shape changing wing that could revolutionise air travel: Twisting design based on fish scales can slash fuel consumption

  • MIT and NASA designed 'morphing' wings made of digital materials
  • The structures are assembled by a team of miniature robots
  • A layer of skin makes it more flexibility and a smoother for better flight
  • Tests show it matches the aerodynamic properties of a conventional wing

 

Researchers are pulling inspiration from the Wright brothers' twisted wood-and-canvas wings in order to make today's flying more efficient.

MIT and NASA have designed a new kind of bendable, 'morphing wing' system that is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic and assembled by small robots.

The new structure could simplify the manufacturing process and greatly reduce fuel consumption by improving the wing's aerodynamics.

Wilbur and Orville Wright, the fathers of aviation, began their work by watching birds angle their wings for balance and control.

In 1903, the duo designed the 'Flyer 1', which used wires and pulleys that bent and twisted the wooden-and-canvas wings.

But now, thanks to some of the engineers at MIT and NASA, aircrafts may be returning to their roots in order to make flying more efficient, reports David Chandler with MIT News.

The new wings are cloaked in a 'skin' made over overlapping pieces that look very similar to scales or feathers, which makes the structure flexible and smoother aerodynamic surface.

The skin is made from 0.127 mm-thick Kapton (polyimide film), cut into strips with hole patterns on a CO2 laser cutter.

And although the team is focused on the wing, they say the system could one day be used for the entire frame.

For years, many experts have attempted to create a reliable way of deforming wings as a substitute for the conventional, separate, moving surfaces, but all those efforts 'have had little practical impact,' said Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms.

It was the use of mechanical control structures within the wing that caused researchers to fail – these structures are very heavy and cancel out any efficiency advantages produced by the smoother aerodynamic surfaces.

'We make the whole wing the mechanism,' said Gershenfeld.

'It's not something we put into the wing.'

With this new approach, the team designed a system in which the entire wing can be modified and twisted uniformly along its length, by activating two small motors that apply a twisting pressure to each wingtip.

'I think we can say it is a philosophical revolution, opening the gate to disruptive innovation,' says Vincent Loubiere, a lead technologist for emerging technologies and concepts at Airbus, who was not directly involved in this research.

'The perspectives and fields this approach opens are thrilling.'

The key to this new concept was the array of tiny carbon fiber reinforced plastics, which Gershenfeld calls 'digital materials' that are used to to build the wings - these subunits can be put together into an infinite variety of shapes like Lego blocks.

This research, said Kenneth Cheung, a NASA scientists, 'presents a general strategy for increasing the performance of highly compliant — that is, 'soft' — robots and mechanisms,' by replacing conventional flexible materials with new cellular materials 'that are much lower weight, more tunable, and can be made to dissipate energy at much lower rates' while having equivalent stiffness.

Gershenfeld and his team met with NASA engineers and others looking for new ways to improve manufacturing and flight.

They learned that 'the idea that you could continuously deform a wing shape to do pure lift and roll has been a holy grail in the field, for both efficiency and agility,' he said.

The team conducted wind-tunnel tests with the new wing system, which shows it compares to the aerodynamic properties of traditional airplane wings- but at one-tenth of the weight.

And adding a layer of 'skin' to the design was found to enhance its overall performance.

 

Since it is layered with flexible material that resembles feathers or fish scales, the pieces are free to move across each other as the wing flexes, while still providing a smooth outer surface.

One of the greatest achievements, Gershenfeld said, is that this system can be easily taken apart and the pieces reused in something completely different.

The system is also much easier to maintain as 'an inspection robot could just find where the broken part is and replace it, and keep the aircraft 100 percent healthy at all times,' says Jenett.

'Ultralight, tunable, aeroelastic structures and flight controls open up whole new frontiers for flight,' says Gonzalo Rey, chief technology officer for Moog Inc.

'Digital materials and fabrication are a fundamentally new way to make things and enable the conventionally impossible. The digital morphing wing article demonstrates the ability to resolve in depth the engineering challenges necessary to apply the concept.'

 

链接:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3902714/The-shape-changing-wing-revolutionise-air-travel-Twisting-design-based-fish-scales-slash-fuel-consumption.html


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