Skip to content

Bio-inspired Distributed Strain and Airflow Sensing for Small Unmanned Air Vehicle Flight Control

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 2017
Publisher or commissioning bodyAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. (AIAA)
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781624104503
ISBN (Print)9781624104503
DatePublished - 9 Jan 2017
EventAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 2017 - Grapevine, United States
Duration: 9 Jan 201713 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 2017


ConferenceAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 2017
CountryUnited States


Flying animals such as birds, bats and insects all have extensive arrays of sensory organs distributed in their wings which provide them with detailed information about the airflow over their wings and the forces generated by this airflow. Using two small modified unmanned air vehicle platforms (UAVs), one with a distributed array of 12 strain gauge sensors and one with a chord-wise array of 4 pressure sensors, we have examined the distribution of the strain and air pressure signals over the UAV wings in relation to flight conditions, including wind tunnel testing, indoor free flight and outdoor free flight. We have also characterised the signals provided by controlled gusts and natural turbulence. These sensors were then successfully used to control roll motions in the case of the strain sensor platform and pitch motions in the case of the pressure sensor platform. These results suggest that distributed mechanosensing and airflow sensing both offer advantages beyond traditional flight control based on rigid body state estimation using inertial sensing. These advantages include stall detection, gust alleviation and model-free measurement of aerodynamic forces. These advantages are likely to be important in the development of future aircraft with increasing numbers of degrees of freedom both through flexibility and active morphing.


AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, 2017

Duration9 Jan 201713 Jan 2017
CountryUnited States

Event: Conference

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via AIAA at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 2 MB, PDF document


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups