Morphing or shape changing structures for flight control is as old as the Wright Brothers who used wing warping actuated by cables for flight control. Because of the need for rigid wings to avoid flutter this type of flight control gave way to discrete control surfaces (flaps, rudder, aileron, elevator). Early flight attempts were based on avian inspiration. The research discussed here looks at the shapes birds take while gliding and uses the resulting information to examine morphing using smart materials applied to UAVs with the hopes of improving their aerodynamic performance. In particular we examine shape changing trailing edges for wings and rudderless flight control of unmanned air vehicles.
Daniel J. Inman received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Mechanical Engineering in 1980 and is Chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, as well as the C. L. “Kelly” Johnson Collegiate Professor. Since 1980, he has published eight books (on vibration, energy harvesting, control, statics, and dynamics), eight software manuals, 20 book chapters, over 335 journal papers and 600 proceedings papers, given 64 keynote or plenary lectures, graduated 62 Ph.D. students and supervised more than 75 MS degrees. He works in the area of applying smart structures to solve aerospace engineering problems including energy harvesting, structural health monitoring, vibration suppression and morphing. He is a Fellow of ASME, AIAA, SEM, IIAV and AAM.