Wing Strike Reduction for Small Fixed Wing Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles

SURVICE, as part of an ARL-led team, designed a passive, mechanically linked, wing-sweeping device using parallel springs and additive manufacturing. We incorporated this mechanism into an off-the-shelf hobby airplane and flight tested both symmetric and asymmetric wing strikes on the leading edge.

The modified plane can successfully recover from the wing strikes, redeploy the wings, and continue flying, even in cases where the impact causes the wings to fully fold.

In the laboratory and in flight, mechanical impact loading on the vehicle is significantly reduced at various air and impact speeds, with aerodynamic loading shown to damp the detrimental moments associated with the leading edge strike.

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