Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design Competition
Extremely Flexible Light-Weight Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
Light-weight unmanned vehicles have gained a tremendous amount of publicity recently with the success of US reconnaissance missions around the world as well as NASA’s long-duration high-altitude research aircraft. This would make for an exciting and relatively simple design that requires a complex analyses involving structural sizing and analysis, stability/control, propulsion, aeroelasticity, etc.
The vehicle mission will be defined in the RFP and will be similar to high-altitude long-duration vehicle such as the Helios or Pathfinder (Wikipedia). Typical vehicles of this class would achieve an altitude of 100,000 feet and fly for at least 24 hours. Such a vehicle would provide a significant design challenge and will require the integration of multiple systems early in the design phase in order to optimize the vehicle performance and may require a multi-phase design approach to reach both the altitude and endurance goals. The student shall be required to justify all technical design decisions including structures, stability/controls, propulsion, integration, etc. The students will also be encouraged to review existing UAV development programs as part of the design process. The vehicle will be considered single-use so long-term operational cost will not be considered a factor, however, the students will required to provide a cost and development risk justification when trading between different technologies needed to meet the design objectives. Required design data and information is typically available in the open literature, such as structural material properties, power plant specifications, power generation and storage, simple flight control systems, however, a POC will be provided that will be able to address student questions. In addition, there are many on-line resources and reports that outline the success and failures in these vehicles that would be valuable information in guiding the student design decisions. The vehicle design shall also include some method of collecting or transmitting several channels of flight data and video, details to be provided in the RFP. The final design and cost estimates shall be summarized in a final report and shall include all design assumptions, analysis results, and rationale.