Date of Award

12-2018

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Richard Anderson

First Committee Member

Dr. Steven Daniel

Second Committee Member

Dr. J. Gordon Leishman

Third Committee Member

Dr. Snorri Gudmunsson

Abstract

Through this thesis research the problem of controllability and propulsion associated with scaling-up consumer drones to vehicles that may carry significantly larger payloads, including passenger will be analyzed and tested. Controllability is mainly compromised due to the increasing response time of a larger rpm controlled rotor. This requires a more powerful motor, which translates into heavier and larger devices compromising the thrust-to-weight ratio. Collective pitch control at constant rpm is proposed as a first approach to mitigate the controllability problem, and it is tested in a MATLAB Simulink environment. This solution, linked to a Non-linear Dynamic Inversion controller, is simulated as part of the Personal Aerial Vehicle Embry-Riddle aircraft, which serves as test bed. The simulation includes the electric motor, rotor and aircraft mathematical models, which are developed in this research.

Included in this thesis are motor sizing and weigh analysis as well as a thrust-to-weight ratio study, which allows to identify the scaling-up effects in consumer drones' propulsion plant. This portion of the thesis is closely linked to the behavior displayed in the simulation, which leads to conclude that collective pitch control at constant rpm can mitigate controllability drawbacks. However, due to the size and weight of electric motors increasing very rapidly, it is demonstrated that, while it is possible to obtain an optimal solution where controllability and thrust-to-weight ratio are in balance, scaling-up consumer drones is a highly complex and limited task.

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