A method is presented for using large-eddy simulation to generate urban wake fields for use in studying the effects on the autonomous flight performance of a small quadrotor. The flowfield is solved around a single square building using OpenFOAM and stored in a database accessed by a MATLAB/Simulink flight simulator. Four flight missions are evaluated to compare the difference in performance between wake fields generated by Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes and large-eddy simulation solutions. The results of the holding position in a constant freestream wind show both methods produce similar results and can hold position in all three directions within approximately ±1.5 body lengths. When the quadrotor is in or on the boundary of the building wake, the maximum deviation volumes, as calculated when using a Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes or large-eddy simulation air wake, can differ by two orders of magnitude. Additionally, the large-eddy simulation air wakes can cause skewed deviations by as much as five to one in a given direction for both holding position and moving along a desired flight path. Since the turbulent large-eddy simulation wake field more accurately reflects the flow physics present within the wake of real-world structures, it is recommended that large-eddy-simulation-generated wake fields be used when designing and testing autonomous control algorithms for multirotor unmanned aerial vehicles on the order of 0.5min size and 2 kg in mass.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.2514/1.C033624
Journal Journal of Aircraft
Sutherland, M., Etele, J, & Fusina, G. (2016). Urban wake-field generation using large-eddy simulation for application to quadrotor flight. Journal of Aircraft, 53(5), 1224–1236. doi:10.2514/1.C033624