Performance measurements of a dual-rotor arm mechanism for efficient flight transition of fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles
Reconfigurable systems are a class of systems that can be transformed into different configurations, generally to perform unique functions or to maintain operational efficiency under distinct conditions. A UAV can be considered a reconfigurable system when coupled with various useful features such as vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), hover capability, long-range, and relatively large payload. Currently, a UAV having these capabilities is being designed by the UTSA Mechanical Engineering department. UAVs such as this one have the following potential uses: emergency response/disaster relief, hazard-critical missions, offshore oil rig/wind farm delivery, surveillance, etc. The goal of this thesis is to perform experimental thrust and power measurements for the propulsion system of this fixed-wing UAV. Focus was placed on a rotating truss arm supporting two brushless motors and rotors that will later be integrated to the ends of the UAV wing. These truss arms will rotate via a supporting shaft from 0° to 90° to transition the UAV between a vertical take-off, hover, and forward flight. To make this hover/transition possible, a relationship between thrust, arm angle, and power drawn was established by testing the performance of the arm/motor assembly at arm angles of 0°, 15°, 30°, 45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°. Universal equations for this system of thrust as a function of the arm angle were created by correlating data collected by a load cell. A Solidworks model was created and used to conduct fluid dynamics simulations of the streamlines over the arm/motor assembly.