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Developing an Effective Control System for VTOL UAVs in Adverse Winds

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2003 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
265 Industrial Drive Christiansburg, VA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2003
Title: Developing an Effective Control System for VTOL UAVs in Adverse Winds
Agency / Branch: DOD / ARMY
Contract: DAAH10-03-C-001
Award Amount: $119,759.00


A valuable new resource being developed for today's soldier are ducted fan VTOL UAVs. Although beneficial in many ways, a major operational problem of ducted fan vehicles is disturbance rejection when flying in turbulent or gusty winds. A large sidewaysmomentum drag component is characteristic of any ducted fan vehicle flying in gusts, and methods are sought to for better control when subjected to large unsteady forces.Techsburg, by teaming with AVID, Honeywell Labs, and MLB, proposes an aggressive analytical and experimental work plan to take advantage of current methodologies and testing resources developed as part of large VTOL UAV program. The proposed work planfocuses on selection and aerodynamic modeling of a candidate VTOL UAV control systems. The most promising of these ideas will then be wind tunnel tested by integrating the new control system with an existing VTOL UAV wind tunnel model. These results canthen be used as input into an existing control system modeling framework that can be used to predict the vehicle's dynamic response to turbulence. In addition to an improved flight control system, insights into establishing disturbance rejection criteriafor VTOL UAVs will be gained, and can be used for future vehicle development efforts. As the military becomes increasingly engaged in unconventional battlefield scenarios, the need for enhanced situational awareness will be filled by small UAVs capable ofhovering flight. The control system development proposed here will be licensed or otherwise used as part of a VTOL UAV program, with the goal of providing the military with a very stable yet maneuverable aerial sensor platform. If this is achieved, manyvehicle units will be bought by the military and other law enforcement groups. The commercial potential for UAVs in general has been demonstrated by the interest generated recently by the Predator and Global Hawk UAVs operating in the Afgan theatre.If these aircraft can be made reliable, easily controlled, and inexpensive, other markets will open up. These potential customers include local police and fire departments, urban news centers, aerial inspection and surveying services, and real estatefirms.

Principal Investigator:

Jonathan Fleming
Principal Research Engine

Business Contact:

Tamara Murray
Business Manager
Small Business Information at Submission:

2901 Prosperity Rd Blacksburg, VA 24060

EIN/Tax ID: 311582371
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No