EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION OF A QUAD-ROTOR BIPLANE MICRO AIR VEHICLE
Bogdanowicz, Christopher Michael
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Micro air vehicles are expected to perform demanding missions requiring efficient operation in both hover and forward flight. This thesis discusses the development of a hybrid air vehicle which seamlessly combines both flight capabilities: hover and high-speed forward flight. It is the quad-rotor biplane, which weighs 240 grams and consists of four propellers with wings arranged in a biplane configuration. The performance of the vehicle system was investigated in conditions representative of flight through a series of wind tunnel experiments. These studies provided an understanding of propeller-wing interaction effects and system trim analysis. This showed that the maximum speed of 11 m/s and a cruise speed of 4 m/s were achievable and that the cruise power is approximately one-third of the hover power. Free flight testing of the vehicle successfully highlighted its ability to achieve equilibrium transition flight. Key design parameters were experimentally investigated to understand their effect on overall performance. It was found that a trade-off between efficiency and compactness affects the final choice of the design. Design improvements have allowed for decreases in vehicle weight and ground footprint, while increasing structural soundness. Numerous vehicle designs, models, and flight tests have proven system scalability as well as versatility, including an upscaled model to be utilized in an extensive commercial package delivery system. Overall, the quad-rotor biplane is proven to be an efficient and effective multi-role vehicle.