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Aerofoil Flow Sensing Using On-Board Optical Tracking of Flexible Pillar Sensors

Selim, O. & Brücker, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-5834-3020 (2023). Aerofoil Flow Sensing Using On-Board Optical Tracking of Flexible Pillar Sensors. Fluids, 8(5), article number 146. doi: 10.3390/fluids8050146


A novel approach for sensing and characterising the flow over an aerofoil is introduced. Arrays of flexible wind-hair-like sensors distributed over an aerofoil, which are tracked remotely using high-speed imaging and processing, acting as “digital tufts”, are used to provide real-time readings of local flow information with high temporal resolution. The use case presented in this paper has the sensors embedded within the suction side of a NACA0012 aerofoil and tested in a wind tunnel for varying angles of attack in static and dynamic tests. The time-averaged signals were able to provide information pertaining to the free-stream velocity and instantaneous angle of attack. The capability of the sensor type to provide temporal flow information is also explored. The sensors were used to detect low-frequency oscillations, which are pre-cursory to stall. These are hypothesised to be linked to breathing modes of the laminar separation bubble, causing a shear-layer flapping observed on the sensors. Such low-frequency oscillations were also detected shortly before separation in the ramp-up studies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher Keywords: aerodynamics; sensor; nature inspired
Subjects: T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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