Structures and Materials

The Multifunctional Structures Lab contains essential experimental equipment to carry out fundamental research on aerospace structures and materials. The key piece of mechanical testing equipment is a 100 kN servohydraulic load frame with a variety of loading rigs that enable tests on a wide range of specimens and materials. It is possible to run tests in compression, tension and bending, statically, at high strain rates or in fatigue. The load frame is also equipped with an environmental chamber for high-temperature testing. A recently commissioned lab-scale gas gun provides a capacity to perform impact tests, particularly on composites and sandwich panels. Data acquisition is usually through non-contact methods, such as digital image correlation and laser extensometry. Fabrication facilities include a high-precision polymer rapid prototyper and a wet lay-up composites bench. Through a close collaboration with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, we also have access to a nanocrystalline electrodeposition facility, as well as a state-of-the-art electron microscopy suite, which is equipped with an in situ testing rig for extremely small-scale experiments.

Flight Systems and Control

FTD2This lab is equipped with a series of state-of-the-art facilities to support research in flight dynamics modelling, simulation and control, as well as autonomous flight and applications. A fully integrated, leading-edge flight training device (FTD) and real-time systems simulator (RTSS) facilitates research and technology in integrated multi-paradigm modelling and simulation, multidisciplinary aircraft design optimization with active control, and fail-safe flight control. A set of desktop helicopters are used for research investigation in formation flight and cooperative control. In addition, a series of flying and ground vehicles are equipped to support research in autonomous control and their application missions. A very recent indoor simulation platform was established for wildfire monitoring using UAVs.

The UTIAS Flight Research Simulator is a multi-purpose simulator with both fixed and rotary wing flight decks mounted on a high-performance 6 DoF motion system. The fixed wing simulator employs 3 collimating optics display boxes with 25 inch CRTs, and electric control loading. The rotary wing simulator employs a stereo-scopic helmet mounted display system and hydraulic control loading. The visual displays are driven by nVidia GTX 285 graphics cards using X-Plane rendering software. The real-time host computer is an 8 processor Concurrent iHawk. Much of the simulator software was developed in-house in either C++ or Matlab/Simulink and Opal-RT’s RT-lab.

Experimental Combustion Facilities

The Advanced Combustion Energy Research (ACER) Facility is a new, $5.1M combustion tunnel that is funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Research Fund (ORF). This facility is currently under construction and is scheduled to come online in 2015. ACER is designed to study the coupled fluid-mechanical, physical, and chemical processes of combustion at conditions that are relevant for next-generation aerospace propulsion and terrestrial power generation engines. The core of the facility is a high-pressure, high-temperature blow-down combustion tunnel, capable of conducting research and testing at pressure of 50 bar (750 PSI), temperatures of 800 K (1000 F), and flow rates of 2.25 kg/s (5 lb/s). The ACER test section is fully optically accessible, allowing for the use of laser and optical measurement techniques. Once complete, ACER will allow research at conditions achievable at only a few major facilities worldwide. Research at these conditions is essential for designing future engines with reduced environmental impact, increased sustainability/energy security, and improved robustness. Parties interested in further details or research collaborations at ACER should contact Prof. Steinberg.

UTIAS is home to two major experimental combustion laboratories, the Experimental Engines Laboratory and the Propulsion and Combustion Laboratory. Both of these labs utilize a variety of experimental combustors and advanced laser measurement systems. Several of these facilities are unique in Canada and among the most advanced worldwide.
Experimental combustors include:

  • Gas turbine model combustors
  • High pressure combustion chamber
  • Capstone C30 micro gas turbine engine
  • Highly turbulent premixed and non-premixed burners
  • Fuel deposition rig

Laser diagnostics capabilities include:

  • High-repetition-rate (10 kHz) Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence (PLIF)
  • High-repetition-rate (10 kHz) Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), including stereoscopic PIV
  • 10 Hz PLIF, including multi-line PLIF
  • 10 Hz PIV, including stereoscopic PIV
  • Laser induced phosphorescence thermometry
  • Laser induced incandescence
  • Rayleigh and Mie scattering

Specific laser and camera systems include:

  • Edgewave high-repetition-rate Nd:YAG laser (80 W, 10 kHz, 532 nm)
  • Sirah Credo high-repetition-rate dye laser
  • Quantronix high-repetition-rate double-pulse Nd:YAG laser (120 W (2×60 W), 10 kHz, 532 nm)
  • Several 10 Hz Nd:YAG lasers at 1064, 532 nm and 355 nm, including single- and double-pulse systems
  • Several 10 Hz Sirah dye lasers
  • Several Photron high-speed cameras
  • Invisible Vision high-speed image intensifier
  • Several scientific CCD cameras, including interline-transfer and intensified systems
  • Andor and Princeton instruments imaging spectrographs

Robotics and Space Systems Engineering Laboratories

ASRL Husky autonomous mobile robot in front of the MarsDome

The Autonomous Space Robotics Lab (ASRL) is focussed on advanced autonomy techniques, particularly visual navigation for mobile robots, with an eye towards planetary and terrestrial applications. Techniques are proven out on real robots using real sensors. ASRL hosts a number of field robot platforms including a Clearpath Husky A200, a Robotsoft ROC6, and two Pioneers. These platforms host a number of high-end visual sensors including various stereo cameras and lidar units. Systems are tested in our indoor Vicon motion capture lab, Marsdome (a large geodesic dome containing a mock planetary terrain), as well as at various field sites across Canada.

Experimental Fluid Mechanics

LOW-SPEED WIND TUNNEL: The UTIAS low-speed wind tunnel has a 1.2 m x 0.8 m cross-section, and is 5 m long. It’s background turbulence intensity is 0.05% and it can reach speeds up to 40 m/s (145 km/h or 90 mph). This very low turbulence intensity is achieved through a carefully designed network of flow conditioning screens and honeycombs.

ACOUSTIC WIND TUNNEL: The acoustic wind tunnel is an open-jet suction tunnel capable of speeds up to 60 m/s (215 km/h or 135 mph). The test-section is located within an anechoic chamber allowing for acoustic measurements outside of the airstream. The test section diameter is 0.7 m and it is 2.4 m long. Past studies in this wind tunnel include aeroacoustic measurements of landing gear and wing tip configurations as well as performance studies of marine propellers and laminar boundary layer instabilities.

SMALL MODEL TESTING TUNNEL: The small model testing tunnel is ideal for testing scale models of aerodynamic bodies. Bicycles, cars, airfoils, and more can be easily mounted and investigated in the facility. The tunnel test-section has a 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm cross-section and is 2.4 m long. This tunnel can achieve speeds up to 60 m/s (215 km/h or 135 mph).