Development of a latching prototype for UAV perching flights
Arvind Dave Singh.
Date of Issue2011
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Robotics Research Centre
Energy is one of the key limiting factors in the design and operation of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or in some cases Miniature Aerial Vehicle (MAV). Current UAVs and MAVs do not possess the necessary range, endurance or even capabilities to enhance its retention of power; in other words, the aerial vehicles are required to land at the same takeoff location in order to recharge itself. Therefore one proposed solution to this problem is to imitate birds by perching; an aerodynamic manoeuvre that allows the vehicle to roost itself on horizontal rods or walls for energy reinforcement; thus resting in strategic locations whilst conserving energy for when it is most needed. A major challenge for this project will be to design and fabricate a lightweight perching mechanism that can be easily mounted onto the UAVs or MAVs to allow it to perch onto walls or poles. It must also posses the enhanced capability to attach and detach on command. To date, they are only a few systems with this value-added capability, of which will be analysed in the literature review section; however they either required precision aerodynamic manoeuvring or even resisting high impact forces with colliding heads. This project will therefore explore the development of a new age perching mechanism coupled with relevant analysis on perching concepts and flight dynamic analysis. Comprehensive studies will be performed simultaneously by graduate students as well as other Final-Year Project (FYP) students to gain better understanding of the perching concepts and principles; this is in order to bring the concept into a reality as much as possible, at least at the prototype level. The problem considered is specifically to allow an aircraft starting from a normal cruise condition to reduce its speed significantly through the utilization of aerodynamics or other flight features such that it can accurately latch onto a horizontal pole at a specific location. The reverse of the problem is also considered, that is the release from the latching position to resume its flight. The author and his team will be spearheading the section of the perching prototype development. The team, named the Perching Team, will be sub-divided into sections consisting of a design (Mr. Martin Koh), development (Mr. Dave Singh, author) and a testing team (Mr. Benedict Sim). The design team will be equipped with the necessary study of the aerodynamic and dynamic characteristics involved in perching before settling on a final design to be presented to the development team. The development team will then fabricate and manufacture the perching prototype based on a clear knowledge and appreciation of this endeavour. The testing team will finally evaluate the prototype to establish the degree of quality and also the extent of the objectives that have been achieved. The perching team has thus come up with two different perching prototypes suitable for two different aerodynamic profiles. The first prototype developed, based on the concept of a mousetrap with the utilization of gripping finger locks, will be used for heavyweight UAVs. The second prototype is developed to cater to lightweight UAVs. It resembles the physical structure of a bird’s limb, including tendons attached to mechanical claws that clasps around poles during a perch. Both prototypes are designed to be incorporated on the UAVs as a value-added attachment and developed to function as a combined singular system Accordingly, this report will encompass the initial investigation on various aspects of perching manoeuvres as well as highlighting relevant research studies. It will also depict the necessary actions and measures taken by the perching team to achieve the objectives assigned including the design, development and testing operations.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University