Trajectory control of smart spin-stabilized supersonic hard launched munitions presents many challenges to overcome before the first bullet is fired in the testing range. The researchers of the Laboratory for Intelligent Machine Systems focus on the following aspects of this wide scale problem: (1) Flight Mechanics Modeling of an Actively Controlled Spinning Projectiles, (2) Aerodynamic Modeling and Wind Tunnel Verification of Control Surfaces, (3) Controller Development and System Simulation and (4) High Bandwidth Actuation Methods Development.
Recent advances in actuation, microelectronics, and aerodynamic modeling have created the opportunity to actively control the flight trajectory and downrange impact point of supersonic hard launched munitions as small as rifle bullets. Just as guided missiles and steerable "smart bombs" revolutionized air strike capabilities and mission profiles, these "smart bullets" offer to enable new precision capabilities to the warfighter on the ground. Previous researches have attempted several schemes to control projectiles in flight; these efforts were primarily directed toward larger caliber munitions and in many cases were designed for smoothbore weapons and non-spinning projectiles. While this simplifies the actuation problem by allowing the use of conventional control surfaces like fins, it introduces inherent drawbacks to the system. Non-spinning projectiles have poor passive stability and are more strongly affected by disturbances and imperfections than their spin-stabilized counterparts, and must thus rely on the active control surfaces to maintain stable flight. In addition, the requirement for smoothbore weapons means that these munitions could not be fired from standard small arms. A more desirable solution would facilitate trajectory control on spinning rifle bullets that could be used interchangeably with conventional ammunition in standard weapons as the tactical situation dictates.