Air Drop UAV

Project Type: 
Mechanical Engineering
Year: 
2017

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Description

Mini UAVs typically require significant planning and foresight to be effectively utilized in remote environments. In order to support unplanned surveillance via a mini UAV, a surveillance package was created that is capable of being dropped from an aircraft to operators on the ground. 

The package includes a quadcopter with a unique design, allowing for the arms to detach from the main body of the drone. This modular design allows the drone and all necessary equipment to fit inside a drop-pod with a 7.25” inner diameter. Due to a specially engineered crumple zone and impact-damping materials inside the pod, the surveillance package can survive forces equivalent to a 10 foot drop.  

Once on the ground, the quadcopter can be easily assembled to fly surveillance missions autonomously. A user would be able to view a live video feed from the drone and update the mission parameters depending on what is observed.  

Over the course of this project, the team was challenged to integrate a system of off-the-shelf electronics in order to optimize motor performance and flight time. From choosing a flight controller to deciding on the length and pitch of propellers, the team quickly learned that every decision had a significant impact on the performance of the end-product. To ensure that the team’s final deliverable was the best it could be, each component was carefully chosen to seamlessly work with one another. 

Heavy analysis on the structural integrity of the UAV and dynamics of the drop-pod upon impact were also performed. Finite element analysis was employed to guide the design of the UAV and ensure its structure was stable enough for flight loads and airdrop impacts, while iterative testing was performed in order to select appropriate crumple zone materials and padding to reduce the impact forces acting on the delicate electronics inside of the pod. 

The team hopes that their efforts in prototyping this Airdrop UAV system inspires future projects in the field of flexible surveillance