Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) design tends to focus on sensors, payload and navigation systems, as these are the most expensive components. One area that is often overlooked in UAV design is airframe and aerodynamic shape optimisation. As for manned aircraft, optimisation is important in order to extend the operational envelope and efficiency of these vehicles. A traditional approach to optimisation is to use gradient-based techniques. These techniques are effective when applied to specific problems and within a specified range. These methods are efficient for finding optimal global solutions if the objective functions and constraints are differentiable. If a broader application of the optimiser is desired, or when the complexity of the problem arises because it is multi-modal, involves approximation, is non-differentiable, or involves multiple objectives and physics, as it is often the case in aerodynamic optimisation, more robust and alternative numerical tools are required. Emerging techniques such as evolutionary algorithms (EAs) have been shown to be robust as they require no derivatives or gradients of the objective function, have the capability of finding globally optimum solutions among many local optima, are easily executed in parallel, and can be adapted to arbitrary solver codes without major modifications. In this paper, the formulation and application of a evolutionary technique for aerofoil shape optimisation is described. Initially, the paper presents an introduction to the features of the method and a short discussion on multi-objective optimisation. The method is first illustrated on its application to mathematical test cases. Then it is applied to representative test cases related to aerofoil design. Results indicate the ability of the method for finding optimal solutions and capturing Pareto optimal fronts.
|Number of pages||14|
|Specialist publication||Aeronautical Journal|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2006|