Research Summaries

Back Education and Research Support for Design-Build-Fly UAV Educational Laboratory Course

Fiscal Year 2019
Division Graduate School of Engineering & Applied Science
Department Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Investigator(s) Dobrokhodov, Vladimir N.
Jones, Kevin D.
Sponsor Air Education & Training Command (Air Force)
Summary The objective of the proposed project is to develop the educational coursework and necessary infrastructure to support what is commonly referred to as a Design-Build-Fly (DBF) capability, allowing students in several different curricula to participate in a project that will let them take a set of requirements and turn them into an operational small unmanned air system (SUAS) - from concept to flight. Many of the skills are already found in the courses offered in the MAE department, but additional material will be required to support Aircraft Design, Aircraft Performance, and Flight Dynamics. Additionally, existing coursework may need to adapt somewhat to support the more specialized aspects of unmanned aircraft design.
On the educational infrastructure side, a laboratory will be assembled with equipment suitable for the manufacture of SUAS; for example, additive manufacturing, small-scale CNC, CNC foam cutting, composite layup and bagging, just to name a few. Additional equipment will be set up to allow for analysis of system sub-components; for example, a motor test stand to allow students to evaluate motor and propeller performance. Most of the fabrication equipment will allow students to take CAD designs that they produced using software they already know, and let them fabricate physical components. Most of these capabilities already exist on campus in one form or another, but the new DBF-laboratory will include everything the students need to fabricate a flying model of their own design in one location.
A number of short educational documents (a combination of various forms of media content) will be developed to get new students up to speed on the use of the equipment and manufacturing processes available in the laboratory. In addition, several sample aircraft will be produced as examples to support the coursework. These will include a few airframes of strategic interest, the B-2 and B-52 bombers. Both of these airframes present interesting problems in terms of manufacturing, structures and controls, utilizing unorthodox control surfaces, and requiring challenging manufacturing methods. Initial smaller-scale models will be built to demonstrate the use of rapid-prototyping, low-cost construction techniques (primarily foam), and allow students to explore the various control schemes with minimal risk; for example, utilizing ailerons or spoilers for roll control on the B-52, and appropriate use of split-elevons for yaw control on the B-2. These smaller models will be fully electric, using either conventional propellers or electric ducted fans (EDF) for propulsion, and there will be versions that utilize direct radio control and others that are fully autonomous, allowing students to gain knowledge on flight control systems design, autopilot setup and tuning. To explore other areas of interest, particularly in the fabrication of large composite parts, and the use of miniature jet turbines, a larger B-52 model will be constructed as a test piece.
Publications Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal
Data Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal