Development of Tools for Conceptual Design of a Wildland Firefighting UAV

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Virginia Tech


The current uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in wildland firefighting center around mapping, scouting, and firing operations. These operations and additional operations are often held back by lack of range and lift capacity of current UAV options. Software design tools were developed in this research to aid in designing a UAV for wildland firefighting. The tools help create a mission profile, estimate the mass of the UAV, select a motor and rotor, select a battery, and generate and analyze a finite element (FE) sector model. These tools leverage parametric analysis and studying existing hardware to create a design. The FE model is generated based on the mission profile, a motor and rotor, and battery as design parameters and a set of design variables. The tools developed for creating a mission profile, estimating mass, selecting a motor and rotor, and selecting a battery successfully aid the preliminary design of an octocopter, hexacopter, and quadcopter. The FE tool was designed around an octocopter's geometry, which leads to complications in generating FE models for a hexacopter or quadcopter. Recommendations were made for altering the FE tool to account for hexacopters and quadcopters. Other recommendations were made to support future work in creating an optimized design of a wildland firefighting UAV.



UAV design, Wildland Firefighting, Abaqus Scripting, Parametric Finite Element Modeling