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RAP opportunity at Air Force Science and Technology Fellowship Program     AF STFP

Guidance and Control Strategies for Adaptive Morphing Unmanned Air Systems in Complex Environments


Munitions Directorate, RW/Weapons Engagement

opportunity location
13.45.04.B8462 Eglin Air Force Base, FL 325426810


name email phone
Benjamin Thomas Dickinson 850.883.2645


Avian flight is a technologically compelling example of an aerodynamic body that adapts to environment and function through shape change (morphing). Although servo-controlled examples of morphing aircraft have existed for decades, emerging advances in material science and smart materials technologies are paving the way for continuous shape change capabilities at high rate and under significant loads. In anticipation of the next generation of shape-change enabling materials, future extreme-agility high-speed unmanned air systems are envisioned that morph to best meet mission requirements or to operate in changing environments. Fundamental to achieving this vision are practical guidance and control (G&C) laws that orchestrate morphing actions. This research opportunity focuses on developing G&C methodologies that enable morphing systems described above. We are particularly interested in furthering the knowledge base in G&C theory to (1) create practical G&C methods for morphing aircraft, (2) create synergies between the G&C systems with morphing action, (3) automatically adapt to multiple flight phases with opposed aerodynamic requirements, (4) automatically adapt to changing atmospheric or low altitude terrestrial environments, (5) apply morphing actions to assist fin-based control system steering objectives, (6) enhance target identification and interception, (7) identify limitations of G&C measurement instrumentation for observability of morphing state, and (8) leverage novel SWaP-C systems that enable morphing observability. Ideas employing biologically inspired principles are welcome but must be scalable to platforms that operate over a wide range of dynamic pressures. Platforms of particular interest are endo-atmospheric unmanned aircraft or homing missiles with Mach number up to 4.0.



Gremillion G, Humbert S: “Disturbance Rejection with Distributed Acceleration Sensing for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” AIAA Journal 54(9): 2016

Shen H, Xu Y, Dickinson B: “Fault tolerant attitude control for small unmanned aircraft systems equipment with an airflow sensor array." Bioinspiration and Biomimetics 9(4): 2014

Landers M, et al: “Deflectable nose and canard controls for a fin-stabilized projectile at supersonic and hypersonic speeds.” 21st AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference, 2003


key words
Flight control; Mechanosensing; Adaptive control; Unmanned aircraft; Morphing; Guidance; Distributed sensing; Bioinspiration; Air data systems;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$95,000.00 $5,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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