Multimodal hybrid powerplant for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) robotics

Glassock, Richard R., Hung, Jane Y., Gonzalez, Luis F., & Walker, Rodney A. (2009) Multimodal hybrid powerplant for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) robotics. In Twenty-Fourth Bristol International Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Conference, March 30th to April 1st 2009, Bristol United Kingdom.


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Most UAS propulsion systems currently utilize either Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) or Electric Motor (EM) prime movers. ICE are favoured for aircraft use due to the superior energy density of fuel compared to batteries required for EM, however EM have several significant advantages. A major advantage of EM is that they are inherently self starting have predictable response characteristics and well developed electronic control systems. EMs are thus very easy to adapt to automatic control, whereas ICE have more complex control response and an auxiliary starting motor is required for automated starting. This paper presents a technique for determining the performance, feasibility and effectiveness of powerplant hybridisation for small UAS. A Hybrid Powerplant offers the possibility of a radical improvement in the autonomy of the aircraft for various tasks without sacrificing payload range or endurance capability. In this work a prototype Aircraft Hybrid Powerplant (AHP) was designed, constructed and tested. It is shown that an additional 35% continuous thrust power can be supplied from the hybrid system with an overall weight penalty of 5%, for a given UAS. Dynamometer and windtunnel results were obtained to validate theoretical propulsion load curves. Using measured powerplant data and an assumed baseline airframe performance characteristic, theoretical endurance comparisons between hybrid and non-hybrid powerplants were determined. A flight dynamic model for the AHP was developed and validated for the purposes of operational scenario analysis. Through this simulation it is shown that climb rates can be improved by 56% and endurance increased by 13%. The advantages of implementing a hybrid powerplant have been baselined in terms of payload range and endurance. Having satisfied these parameters, a whole new set of operational possibilities arises which cannot be performed by non-self-starting ICE only powered aircraft. A variety of autonomous robotic aircraft tasks enabled by the hybrid powerplant is discussed.

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ID Code: 20124
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: propulsion, autonomous systems, uas, engine, powerplant, aircraft, hybrid
ISBN: 978-0-9552644-5-0
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > AEROSPACE ENGINEERING (090100) > Aerospace Engineering not elsewhere classified (090199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > MECHANICAL ENGINEERING (091300) > Autonomous Vehicles (091303)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > MECHANICAL ENGINEERING (091300) > Numerical Modelling and Mechanical Characterisation (091307)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Copyright Owner: Copyright Richard Glassock 2009
Deposited On: 28 Apr 2009 05:47
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:54

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