Science and Technology

Small unmanned flyer

| Updated on April 25, 2021

A team headed by Prof AK Ghosh of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kanpur, has developed a small unmanned aerial system (UAS) based on the fixed wing platform, in a ‘pusher configuration’ (propellers behind the engine).

The UAS has long endurance — greater than seven hours — weighs 16–21 kg and can carry payloads of 2-6 kg.

The propulsion system can be either electrical or gasoline. The pusher configuration was chosen keeping in mind future application of the UAS in sensitive areas where exhaust fumes from a ‘puller’ engine may affect various environmental sensors.

The vehicle is operated by a ground control system (GCS), with autonomous flight capability using an onboard autopilot that is capable of waypoint navigation and loitering flight, except take-off and landing.

The system is designed and tested for an operational ceiling of 5,000 feet from sea level.

The vehicle is useful for border patrol, search and rescue, traffic monitoring, crowd control, environmental studies, asset monitoring, crop monitoring and re-supply.

The developers have used composites, mainly fibre-reinforced plastics, Kevlar and carbon fibre for building the vehicle. The fuselage is a hollow, monocoque structure made of fibreglass.

The control system provides integrated miniaturised avionics for autonomous control of micro or mini UAV, which is also capable of automatic take-off, landing, waypoint navigation and steering flight control with manual override. The autopilot has integrated INS/GPS and its air data system provides accurate estimates of altitude, velocity and position. The integrated data link modem provides communication beyond a 20 km range.

Users can dynamically plan mission, monitor critical flight parameters and adjust UAV parameters through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI).

Published on April 25, 2021

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