Enabling efficient vertical takeoff/landing and forward flight of unmanned aerial vehicles: design and control of tandem wing-tip mounted rotor mechanisms

Mancuso, Peter Timothy
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that offer vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and forward flight capability suffer from sub-par performance in both flight modes. Achieving the next generation of efficient hybrid aircraft requires innovations in: (i) power management, (ii) efficient structures, and (iii) control methodologies. Existing hybrid UAVs generally utilize one of three transitioning mechanisms: an external power mechanism to tilt the rotor-propulsion pod, separate propulsion units and rotors during hover and forward flight, or tilt body craft (smaller scale). Thus, hybrid concepts require more energy compared to dedicated fixed-wing or rotorcraft UAVs. Moreover, design trade-offs to reinforce the wing structure (typically to accommodate the propulsion systems and enable hover, i.e. tilt-rotor concepts) adversely impacts the aerodynamics, controllability and efficiency of the aircraft in both hover and forward flight modes. The goal of this research is to develop more efficient VTOL/ hover and forward flight UAVs. In doing so, the transition sequence, transition mechanism, and actuator performance are heavily considered. A design and control methodology was implemented to address these issues through a series of computer simulations and prototype benchtop tests to verify the proposed solution. Finally, preliminary field testing with a first-generation prototype was conducted. The methods used in this research offer guidelines and a new dual-arm rotor UAV concept to designing more efficient hybrid UAVs in both hover and forward flight.

This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.
flight sequence, Hybrid, mission planning, Transition
Mechanical Engineering