Sunday, February 17, 2008

Guided monocopter project

I've made several posts on the development of monocopter UAVs (these posts can be found in my monocopter category). Today, I saw a post in another forum (no link, sorry) that discusses the development of a fly-by-wire monocopter project being developed at MIT by Woody Hoburg and some colleagues. Woody is a well known sport rocketeer who has many impressive accomplishments, including flying his O-powered 'Flag Rocket' at the 2006 X-prize Cup.

The un-named author points out that, while all the spinning is hard on people, a monocopter would make an efficient UAV. The benefits include:
  • Less friction leads to more energy used for the flying, fuel efficiency, and less maintenance.
  • The elimination of mutual rotor turbulence leads to efficiency of structure, design, and power.
The gotcha is that new control laws are required. While several companies with top-notch professional aerospace engineers, control systems experts and mathematicians are pursuing this goal for DARPA, this is the only non-DoD project of this nature. Although I decided not to cross post the entire entry, there is a link to his project concept paper, which is quite detailed and very interesting. This is really excellent work and I can't wait to hear about his success!