The Design, Manufacturing, and Testing of a Novel Blended Wing Body Multirotor UAV for Public Safety Applications

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Virginia Tech’s Uncrewed Systems Lab (USL) has begun development of a small quadcopter with a novel aerodynamic design intended for public health and safety applications. An ever-increasing number of regulations against Chinese technology in the US has forced many public safety agencies to ground their fleets and seek new alternatives. The USL team and our partners wish to fill this hole in the market. The final product is envisioned as being a monocoque composite blended wing body (BWB) quadcopter, compatible with a wide range of payload types and comprised of only non-Chinese components. Based on market research and a literature review, the team believes that these features will significantly enhance the aerodynamic efficiency, structural reliability, repairability, and versatility of our product compared to currently available solutions, and that these features are what the customer base need in their solution. Thus far, the USL has already shown that the design has significantly better energy efficiency than comparable vehicles due to its unique, wing-shaped fuselage. A prototype was designed and constructed for proof of concept and configuration testing. Proof of concept testing showed great promise. The prototype was flight tested and compared to a Holybro S500, and found to be significantly more energy efficient, particularly at higher speeds. This is highly promising, and thus, work will continue on optimizing and maturing this design. The next steps include arm configuration testing and downselection followed by building a composite prototype. The team at VT’s USL has high hopes for making this an actual product that will be profitable and beneficial to society by catering to public safety and law enforcement customers in the United States.

3D Printing, Aerodynamic Optimization, BWB, Blended Wing Body, Flying Wing, Rapid Prototyping, UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, VTOL, Vertical Takeoff and Landing