Richard J. Foch
Naval Research Laboratory
U.S. Navy Micro Air Vehicle Development
The U. S. Navy is developing autonomous, electric powered Micro Air Vehicles for military missions. The goal of this program is to develop a small flying vehicle for suppression of enemy air defense. It would have a wingspan of 15 to 20 centimeters and carry a 15 gram payload. Primary research areas include computational and experimental low Reynolds number aerodynamics, a novel navigation scheme, the development of custom electric motors, and the development of the radar jammer payload. Wind tunnel tests of two-dimensional and very low aspect ratio, three-dimensional wings are being performed for Reynolds numbers between 20,000 and 200,000. Waypoint navigation is being pursued as the primary navigation, with an optical flow sensor for collision avoidance. Flight control rules are being optimized using a machine learning program coupled to a six-degree-of-freedom flight simulator. This program is entering its third of five years, and will culminate in a system demonstration at the end of fiscal year 2001.