High Performance UAV

The High Performance UAV project will focus on designing, constructing, and flying two fixed-wing UAV’s: a prototype in the first semester, and a high-performance vehicle in the second. In addition, the team will construct a ground station capable of receiving video and performance-monitoring data streamed live from both aircraft. This project will emphasize fast-paced mechanical and electrical design processes, especially as they apply to a rapidly developing sector of the aerospace industry.

The team will design and execute flight plans to measure performance of the final aircraft as compared to the prototype UAV. In addition, the final UAV may also be tailored to fly in one of several annual competitions held in the United States.

As of the first week of October, the team has ordered many of the necessary components needed to build the prototype UAV, including wing frames and parts for the chassis. While they are waiting for the parts to be delivered to YUAA, the team is busy working on the necessary electronic systems needed to communicate with the UAV and help it collect flight data.

Though the team has not finished the vehicle, they have learned an incredible amount about the design and construction of typical airframes and control systems. In addition to working on construction of the prototype vehicle, the UAV team has nearly completed the ground station that they will use to receive live video and performance data from the UAV during its flights. They are also nearing completion of the autopilot system that will control our vehicle from takeoff to landing.

The following is a great video of the autopilot controlling a servo motor:


In order to devote sufficient time to the design and construction of the final, high performance, vehicle, the team decided to forgo finishing the assembly of the prototype vehicle. This final vehicle will employ a blended-wing airframe, and will showcase many efficient subsystems such as retractible landing gear and minimal control surfaces. Over the winter recess, they will finalize the design of our final vehicle and begin ordering parts so that they can begin construction when we return to campus. The goal is to fly the final UAV in the early Spring of 2016.

Andrew Arkebauer is the UAV team leader. He is a junior in Silliman majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and worked on the UAV team his sophomore year.