Design & Implementation of an Electric Fixed-wing Hybrid VTOL UAV for Asset Monitoring



Hybrid, UAV, VTOL, BLDC, Fuselage, Aircraft design


Fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer the best aerodynamic efficiency required for long-distance or high-endurance applications, albeit their runway requirement for take-off and landing in comparison with quadcopters, helicopters, and flapping-wing UAVs that can perform vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). Integrating a multirotor system with a fixed-wing UAV imparts VTOL capabilities without significantly compromising fixed-wing aerodynamic efficiency, endurance, payload capacity or range. Documented system design approaches to address various challenges of such fusion processes are sparse. This research proposes a holistic approach for designing, prototyping, and testing an electric-powered fixed-wing hybrid VTOL UAV. The proposed system design approach augments the standard aircraft design process with additional steps to integrate VTOL capabilities. Separate fixed-wing and multirotor designs were derived from the frozen mission requirements, which were then fused. The process used simulation for modeling and evaluating alternatives for the hybrid UAV created using standard aircraft design equations. We prototyped and instrumented the final design to validate operational capabilities through test flights. Multiple flight trials identified the ideal combination of Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) batteries for VTOL (8000mAh) and fixed-wing (14000mAh) modes to meet the endurance and range requirements. The redundant power supplies also increased the survivability chances of the hybrid UAV during failures.






Original Papers