Morphing systems are reconfigurable systems whose features include geometric shape change, but also can include color, aural or electromagnetic changes. Morphing aircraft with retractable landing gear, flaps and slats and variable sweep wings are not unusual today, but they were futuristic 70 or 80 years ago. Who has not marveled to see the morphing wing of a commercial jet robotically change shape as it deploys spoilers and flaps when landing? On the other hand, the missions for these aircraft are conventional. This book looks at morphing systems with an eye to the future in which missions will be challenging and today's solutions simply will not work.
I first came across the term “morphology” in 1971 while reading the final draft of Professor Holt Ashley's textbook Engineering Analysis of Flight Vehicles. His first chapter is entitled “Morphology of the Airplane.” Holt was my research adviser at Stanford in the late 1960s and, more importantly a distinguished educator, researcher, engineer and master of the written English language. When I suggested that he change “morphology” to something like “shape,” he replied: “But morphology is such a wonderful word! So descriptive!” And so it is.
My four-year stint as a DARPA program manager included development of game-changing morphing aircraft for a specific military mission. The DARPA program was very successful and we showed that: (1) morphing shape change is not expensive, compared to the system benefits it provides; and ...