Date of Award

Summer 7-2021

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Vladimir V. Golubev

Committee Co-Chair

Snorri Gudmundsson

First Committee Member

William MacKunis


We address the development of a dynamic-soaring capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) optimized for long-duration flight with no on-board power consumption. The UAV’s aerodynamic properties are captured with the integration of variable fidelity aerodynamic analyses. In addition to this, a 6 degree-of-freedom flight simulation environment is designed to include the effects of atmospheric wind conditions. A simple flight control system aids in the development of the dynamic soaring maneuver. A modular design paradigm is adopted for the aircraft dynamics model, which makes it conducive to use the same environment to simulate other aircraft models. Multiple wind-shear models are synthesized to study the overall energy gain for low and high-altitude dynamic soaring. In addition to this, the efficiency of the autopilot control laws is compared with human-piloted DS cycles. The current research thus focuses on studying the UAV’s energy neutrality in performing repeatable dynamic soaring cycles, which presents a paradigm shift in UAV propulsion, where the energy extracted from the wind shear could be used as a propulsive force.