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Design, Analysis and Hover Performance of a Rotary Wing Micro Air Vehicle

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An initial design concept for a micro‐coaxial rotorcraft using custom manufacturing techniques and commercial off‐the‐shelf components is discussed. Issues associated with the feasibility of achieving hover and fully functional flight control at small scale for a coaxial rotor configuration are addressed. Results from this initial feasibility study suggest that it is possible to develop a small scale coaxial rotorcraft weighing approximately 100 gm, and that moment control is sufficient for roll, yaw and lateral trim. A prototype vehicle was built and its rotors were tested in a custom hover stand used to measure thrust and power. The best measured rotor Figure of Merit, 0.42, was obtained for a single rotor configuration. A blade element momentum theory (BEMT) model of the rotor was implemented, and airfoil characteristics were estimated from the rotor tests. The model showed that profile drag accounts for 45% of the losses as opposed to 30% in full‐scale helicopters. The radio controlled vehicle was flown untethered with its own onboard power source and exhibited good flight stability and control dynamics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Smart Structures Laboratory, Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Publication date: 01 April 2003

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  • The Journal of the American Helicopter Society is the world's only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight technology. It is a peer-reviewed technical journal published quarterly by AHS International and presents innovative papers covering the state-of-the-art in all disciplines of rotorcraft design, research and development. (Please note that AHS members receive significant discounts on articles and subscriptions.)

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