The design and validation of hypersonic vehicles is challenging due to the complex interactions between vehicle subsystems and the flight control logic. This makes modelling and qualification of flight control systems and actuators particularly difficult, and poses a high risk to hardware in flight testing. Hypersonic wind tunnel experiments have been used extensively for static testing of sub-scale models, however modern electronics have now improved to make `closing-the-loop' in feedback controlled tunnel tests possible. This capability would provide an intermediate step in the vehicle design process, offering more efficient aerodynamic characterisation, and allowing the interactions between the vehicle aerodynamics and the control system to be explored safely.
The primary aim of this research is to develop and verify the actuation and control systems for hypersonic vehicles, and better understand the differences between real system and the models used to describe them.
To achieve this goal, a combination of ground-based experimental testing and Digital Twin modelling is proposed.
This report provides the context for the research by investigating the challenges and previous modelling approaches used for hypersonic flight control system design. The literature review offers an overview of the current limitations and expands on the current open research questions. The methodology presented in Chapter 3 breaks the project down into three distinct phases of work, including the subsonic, hypersonic pitching and hypersonic multi degree-of-freedom campaigns. The technological developments to date are included, and the future work and project schedule is included. As of October 2022 the first phase is complete, and progress is underway with the second and third.
Chapter 4 of the report covers the hardware-in-the-loop testing and Digital Twin development of a subsonic pitching model with on-board actuation. This work is summarised in a publication for the Australian Fluid Mechanics Conference 2022, and illustrates the Digital Twin system model as a useful tool for control law development.
The final chapter presents the recent phase of work, covering the experimental and modelling methods for the hypersonic pitching wing model. In this case, the Digital Twin aerodynamics model is developed based on a combination of open and closed-loop experimental data. The research is being drafted for publication after two successful test campaigns in 2022.
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