Air Force looks to dSPACE for design and development tools for test and measurement of wind turbulence

May 8, 2024
MicroLabBox is a design and development system for the laboratory that combines compact size and low system costs with high performance.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – U.S. Air Force and university researchers needed design and development tools to help build a gust generator to simulate the effects of turbulence on a wide variety of military and civil aircraft. They found their solution from dSPACE Inc. in Wixom, Mich.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, have chosen dSPACE to provide the company's MicroLabBox for test and measurement, and aircraft turbulence research.

MicroLabBox is an all-in-one development system for the laboratory that combines compact size and low system costs with high performance and versatility. The Air Force and the University of Dayton are using the MicroLabBox to develop and validate control systems to mitigate wind gusts.

Research could lead to no noticeable wind turbulence on commercial aircraft flights and to reliable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) delivery through nearly any weather. Measuring the effect of wind gust dynamics on an aircraft wing or rotary propeller is critical, experts say.

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Michael Mongin, an engineer at the Air Force Research Lab is working with graduate students from the University of Dayton to conduct experiments using the dSPACE MicroLabBox to uncover the secret of calmer flight.

Research aims to understand the physics of the flow field surrounding a wing undergoing gusts. the Air Force Research Lab and University of Dayton want to understand the changes in the flow field so they can unpack the direct physics of why certain movements are present as gusts interact with the wings.

Once understood, that information can help engineers design controllers for flying through gusty winds with no adverse effects. "We are understanding the dynamics on a deeper level and unraveling how we might use this in the future," the Air Force's Mongin says. "We are getting closer to having a controller able to demonstrate some pretty high vortex gust rejection and high mitigation rates on the gusts.

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Air Force and University of Dayton researchers built a gust generator using the dSPACE MicroLabBox. "I needed to look at the flow fields and study the physics, and the MicroLabBox has been a good means to an end for us because it allows us, through a very familiar programming architecture, Simulink, to write and develop these controllers and control structures for our lab that we can just drop in, plug them in, and run the experiments," Mongin says.

"Before the MicroLabBox was in the lab, researchers would have to come up with open-loop profiles for the wing pitch," Mongin explains. "They had to have perfect models and run prescribed profiles then analyze in post to see how well it did at mitigating. Now we say, ‘target this amount of lift', and the controller can make corrections in the loop to get us to the mitigation we want."

For more information contact dSPACE online at, the Air Force Research Lab at, or University of Dayton at

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