16 Flow Structure Modification Using Plasma Actuation for Enhanced UAV Flight Control

Antonio J. Conesa Torres

Experimental Aerodynamics Branch, INTA, Madrid, Spain

16.1 Introduction

In recent years, plasma actuators have been intensively studied and developed, representing a fascinating and promising technology for active aerodynamic flow control [1]. There is worldwide interest in increasing the roles and capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both military and civil use [2]. If a vehicle has to be optimized for diverse roles and sometimes conflicting conditions and objectives, active aerodynamic flow control becomes a powerful tool for adapting the vehicle from one condition to another. So active flow control emerges as a promising strategy to enhance the aerodynamic performance and manoeuvre capability of UAVs.

Plasma actuators, specifically those based on dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) actuation, have a number of characteristics that make them ideal for active flow control, namely they are all electric, lightweight, and have fast responses among other properties. The following paragraphs describe recent investigations on plasma actuators based on DBD actuation for aerodynamic uses. The list is not exhaustive and many references are not given; the goal is to present the initial experiments and some of the most relevant research related to flight control of UAVs, showing the ability of these devices to control the airflow around lifting surfaces. ...

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