Development and stabilization of an unmanned vertical takeoff and landing technology demonstrator platform
Small and micro unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are rapidly becoming viable platforms for surveillance, aerial photography, firefighting and even package delivery. While these UAVs that are of the rotorcraft type require little to no extra infrastructure for their deployment, they are typically saddled with short ranges and endurance, thus placing a restriction on their usage. On the other hand, UAVs that are of fixed wing type generally have longer range and endurance but often require a runway for take-off and landing which places a restriction on their usage. This project focuses on the development of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV demonstrator suitable for integration on a small or mini flying wing UAV (a fixed wing UAV) to counteract the take-off and landing limitations of fixed wing type UAVs. This thesis first presents a propulsion characterisation experiment designed to determine the thrust and moment properties of a select set of propulsion system components. The results of the characterisation experiment identified that the propulsion set of a Turnigy C6374 – 200 brushless out runner electric motor driving a 22 x 10 inch three bladed propeller will provide approximately 79N (8kg) of thrust at 80% throttle (4250rpm). Therefore, two of these propulsion set would satisfy the platform requirement of 12kg maximum take-off mass (MTOM). The result of the abovementioned experiment, together with the VTOL platform requirements were then used as considerations for the selection of the suitable VTOL method and consequently the design of the propulsion configuration. Following a comparison of VTOL methods, the tilt-rotor is identified as the most suitable VTOL method and a variable speed twin prop concept as the optimal propulsion configuration.