UAV unmanned aerial vehicle

UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – an aircraft with no pilot on board. UAVs can be remote controlled aircraft (e.g. flown by a pilot at a ground control station) or can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation systems. UAVs are currently used for a number of missions, including reconnaissance and attack roles.

To distinguish UAVs from missiles, a UAV is defined as being capable of controlled, sustained level flight and powered by a jet or reciprocating engine.

A UAV is also commonly known as a drone. They are used primarily for military and special operation applications, and for a growing number of civil applications, such as policing, firefighting, and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too “dull, dirty, and dangerous” for manned aircraft.

No matter what your area of focus – agriculture, power generation and exploration, wildlife management and protection, news gathering, law enforcement, military, personal entertainment, etc., the list goes on and on – there’s a drone in your future.

  • How drones are poised to help build the cities of tomorrow – We might be a ways off having buildings pop up at the push of a button, but on construction sites around the world flying robots are already carrying out surveying tasks more efficiently than we can. And experts say that when it comes to automating construction, that’s not all they have to offer.
  • Disposable Drones Will Collect Data by Surfing Along with Hurricanes – These robots, made of carbon fiber, are just six inches long and don’t weigh much more than an iPod Nano. Hardware on board measures pressure, temperature, humidity, location and time, all to help predict the trajectory and intensity of hurricanes. Since just one of these robots isn’t nearly enough to get a good sense of a hurricane, they’re designed to be used in swarms of tens or hundreds, collecting massive amounts of data while creating their own autonomous network.
  • Giant Solar-Powered UAVs Are Atmospheric Satellites – The Solara is intended to lift a payload to 20,000 meters and then keep it there for five years, running entirely on solar power. It functions a bit like a satellite, except substantially cheaper and much more versatile. And, you can get it back when you’re done.
  • PilotEdge provides ATC services for simulators. The service area covers Southern California. Some of their traffic is live, while the rest is computer-generated. PilotEdge has 400 drones flying around the area at all times in Echo and Golf airspace, squawking 1200 and not talking to anyone. They’re programmed to fly exactly as real-world “non-participating” targets do. They’re in the VFR practice areas, the Palos Verdes aerobatic area, and so on. They have military aircraft flying at high speed on military training routes, light GA aircraft on multi-hour cross-countries, gliders (again, without a transponder) flying ridge lift off of Warner Springs and around Mojave, etc.
  • Flying Trains – an all-cargo, unpressurized aircraft with standardized containers that become an integral part of the structure of the aircraft. It will have a 362,000 pound useful load capacity and a range of 8,400 nm. With people removed from the aircraft, it can now fly in the most fuel efficient method, which usually means slower and lower altitudes resulting lower fuel costs.·
  • Quadcopter (video 16:08) – drones that play catch, balance and make decisions together

UAV Landing on an Air Craft Carrier

The Navy’s UAV, the X-47B successfully performed a cable assist landing – its first simulated aircraft carrier landing. It takes off, flies and lands within a few feet of its predicted path. In the coming months the Navy will begin testing the X-47B in live carrier landing test.

Land based UAVs have been flying for quite sometime. What is the difference between a land based system and a carrier based system? The major difference is that a carrier runway is a moving object. Not only it moves forward, it also rocks on the ocean waves. On top of this, the carrier runway is very short.

How you design a system that will respond quickly and reliably to the moving target is the essence. The UAVs controller must use visual images taken by the on-board cameras and electronic signals beamed from the carrier to adjust the flight path and the approach speed in order to arrive at the desired touchdown point on the deck. All the data processing and control motion have to be done very fast in order to land successfully. Sensing, data processing, and fast control loop are key elements of such a system.

In Bernoulli’s principle the high speed air passing over the top of an airfoil produces lower pressure. The airflow at the bottom of the airfoil is slower and has higher pressure. The pressure difference acts on the wing produces the lift.

  • How can airplane fly upside down? Will the lift going downward? How about airplane with symmetric airfoil (Top and bottom of the wing have the same shape)?
  • How can a computer determine distance based on visual images? How do we tell the distance?
  • How difficult it is to land on an aircraft carrier: on calm sea, rough sea, bright daylight, and moonless night?

Questions correspond to the steps in the [/Engineering%20Design%20Process Engineering Design Process].

  • Ask – UAVs are useful pretty much anywhere, including places where there isn’t any land, or you don’t want the UAV to land, like where there is a war going on. What was the solution for airplanes? Can something similar be used for UAVs?
  • Imagine – Landing an airplane on a moving air craft carrier takes great pilots with lots of training. If it is hard for a good human pilot to land a plane, how can a UAV land with no pilot?
  • Plan – A remote pilot can “drive” the UAV. Sensor equipment in the UAV can provide information to the pilot and also help guide the UAV directly. What communication is possible between the UAV and the remote pilot? Is there enough information exchanged quickly enough to safely land the UAV?
  • Create – What kinds of control system must be provided? What type of control device does the pilot have? How do the UAV’s sensors and control work with directions provided by the pilot?
  • Improve

That’s engineering

  • Aerodynamics: used in airplane design. Forces acting on a flying object are: lift, gravity, thrust, drag. Lift is produced through Bernoulli’s Principle and angle of attack. Thrust may be generated by a propeller or a jet. Drag is the result of friction between the flying object and the air.
  • Bernoulli’s Principle – in fluid flow, an increase in velocity occurs simultaneously with decrease in pressure.

Engineering ideas

  • remote controlled, pre-programmed, autonomous, missile, angle of attack, force, lift, gravity, thrust, drag, friction

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • find other examples of UAV research projects. Are there other things that UAVs can be used for? What would you suggest?

Learn more…

  • New control method enables drones to land autonomously on moving vehicles. A drone is paired with an unmanned ground vehicle to rendezvous and dock in a pre-determined location. The breakthrough could greatly expand the reach and applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Multicopter meets monster truck The AT Transformer roadable VTOL aircraft capable of unmanned autonomous operations as a more flexible way to recover casualties, move supplies, and support special forces.

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