A compliant polymorphing wing for small UAVs

Sadique P. MUHAMMED, Rafic M. AJAJ, Kamran A. KHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper presents the development of a novel compliant polymorphing wing capable of chord and camber morphing for small UAVs. The morphing wing can achieve up to 10% chord extension and ±20° camber changes. The design, modeling, sizing, manufacturing and mechanical testing of the wing are detailed. The polymorphing wing consists of one continuous front spar fixed to the fuselage and a rear spar on each side of the wing. Each rear spar can translate in the chordwise direction (chord morphing) and rotate around itself (camber morphing). A flexible elastomeric latex sheet is used as the skin to cover the wing and maintain its aerodynamic shape whilst allowing morphing. The loads from the skin are transferred to the spars using the compliant cellular ribs that support the flexible skin and facilitate morphing. Pre-tensioning is applied to the skin to minimize wrinkling when subject to aerodynamic and actuation loads. A rack and pinion actuation system, powered by stepper motors, is used for morphing. Aero-structural design, analysis and sizing are conducted. Performance comparison between the polymorphing wing and the baseline wing (non-morphing) shows that chord morphing improves aerodynamic efficiency at low angles of attack while camber morphing improves efficiency at high angles of attack.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)2575-2588
Number of pages14
JournalChinese Journal of Aeronautics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Camber morphing
  • Chord morphing
  • Compliant structures
  • Flexible skin
  • UAVs


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