High Accuracy Air Data Sensor Probe

Track Code: 

A novel sensor design allows capture of angular fluid flow with greater accuracy than the conventional Pitot-type probe currently in use in commercial and military aircraft

Fluid flow velocities, such as the airspeed of an aircraft, have traditionally been measured using some variation of the Pitot tube. The accuracy of this relatively simple pressure sensing device is reduced at high velocities and in conditions when the flow is not parallel to the device (e.g., when an aircraft is changing direction or otherwise inducing pitch or yaw angles). The present invention utilizes a multi-body design that maintains accuracy in these conditions and incorporates other useful measurement capabilities. The prototype has been tested using a wind tunnel setup as well as an unmanned aerial system (UAS). KU inventors have flight test data in tandem configuration that shows superiority of the novel probe as compared to the conventional Pitot probe.

download test results


This invention is most likely to be used in the aerospace industry as an onboard sensor for flight data and avionics systems. It would be appropriate for use in both commercial and military aircraft, and may be especially desired in UASs due to the high accuracy of its readings and the importance of these readings to automated flight control.

How it works: 

The key innovation of this design is the blunt centerbody that projects out of the main body. This centerbody possesses features, including its size, shape, and surface texture, which have been optimized to take advantage of the Coanda effect (a phenomenon causing an angular fluid flow to wrap around a surface). This configuration facilitates accurate measurements, even at high speeds and during rapid changes of flow direction. It also provides a site at which localized pressure and temperature measurements can be taken. There is an aft stagnation tube in the probe that is used to measure the total pressure and temperature that are combined to deduce local entropy.


Increased accuracy of airflow speed data under atypical conditions improves flight control systems, as well as safety and navigational systems. The ability to measure localized pressure and temperature data also allow the calculation of local entropy.

Why it is better: 

To compensate for angular flow errors and to incorporate temperature sensing into flight data, traditional sensing systems may make use of multiple sensors in different locations. This invention presents an integrated solution that provides accurate pressure and temperature measurements in a single location, creating data that is uniquely useful for control systems and fluid flow analysis.

Other Applications: 

This invention could replace a traditional Pitot tube in most fluid flow sensing applications, including in water-based vessels and in industrial tools for measuring air and gas flow.

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · m.patterson@ku.edu · 785-864-6397
Shawn Keshmiri
Saeed Farokhi
Ray Taghavi