Date of Award
Master of Science
Department of Systems Engineering and Management
John M. Colombi, PhD.
Craig Reynolds, in the seminal research into simulated flocking, developed a methodology to guide a flock of birds using three rules: collision avoidance, flock centering, and velocity matching. By modifying these rules, a methodology was created so that each aircraft in a flock maintains a precise position relative to the preceding aircraft. By doing so, each aircraft experiences a decrease in induced aerodynamic drag and increase in fuel efficiency. Flocks of semi-autonomous aircraft present the warfighter with a wide array of capabilities for accomplishing missions more effectively. By introducing formation drag reduction, overall fuel consumption is reduced while range and endurance increase, expanding war planners' options. A simulation was constructed to determine the feasibility of the drag reduction flock in a two-dimensional environment using a drag benefit map constructed from existing research. Due to both agent interaction and wind gust variability, the optimal position for drag reduction presented a severe collision hazard, and drag savings were much more sensitive to lateral (wingtip) position than longitudinal (streamwise) position. By increasing longitudinal spacing, the collision hazard was greatly reduced and a 10-aircraft flock demonstrated a 9.7% reduction in total drag and 14.5% increase in endurance over a mock target.
DTIC Accession Number
Lambach, Jacob L., "Integrating UAS Flocking Operations with Formation Drag Reduction" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 714.