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Parallel Aircraft Trajectory Optimization with Analytic Derivatives

By Justin S. Gray, Bret Naylor and Robert D. Falck


Trajectory optimization is an integral component for the design of aerospace vehicles, but emerging aircraft technologies have introduced new demands on trajectory analysis that current tools are not well suited to address. Designing aircraft with technologies such as hybrid electric propulsion and morphing wings requires consideration of the operational behavior as well as the physical design characteristics of the aircraft. The addition of operational variables can dramatically increase the number of design variables which motivates the use of gradient based optimization with analytic derivatives to solve the larger optimization problems. In this work we develop an aircraft trajectory analysis tool using a Legendre-Gauss-Lobatto based collocation scheme, providing analytic derivatives via the OpenMDAO multidisciplinary optimization framework. This collocation method uses an implicit time integration scheme that provides a high degree of sparsity and thus several potential options for parallelization. The performance of the new implementation was investigated via a series of single and multi-trajectory optimizations using a combination of parallel computing and constraint aggregation. The computational performance results show that in order to take full advantage of the sparsity in the problem it is vital to parallelize both the non-linear analysis evaluations and the derivative computations themselves. The constraint aggregation results showed a significant numerical challenge due to difficulty in achieving tight convergence tolerances. Overall, the results demonstrate the value of applying analytic derivatives to trajectory optimization problems and lay the foundation for future application of this collocation based method to the design of aircraft with where operational scheduling of technologies is key to achieving good performance

Topics: Aircraft Design, Testing and Performance, Aeronautics (General)
Year: 2016
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