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Airborne search and rescue platform

This proposal describes the design and manufacture of a uav (unmanned aerial vehicle) which can undertake maritime search and rescue operations. The project targets flight stability in severe weather conditions through the use of aeroservoelastic technology.

There are many situations where sea search and rescue operations have been hampered by severe climate conditions and other factors. In these situations there is a risk for a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft when deployed to search for boat accident survivors. The cost of material and human life can prove too high for such operations and can lead to further tragedy. This proposal describes the design and manufacture of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that can undertake maritime surveillance operations and searches for shipping tragedy victims. Although the usage of UAV in these kinds of operations might seem straightforward, there are certain limitations relating to the stability of such aircrafts in severe weather conditions. In this proposal, the problem is addressed with the use of aeroservoelastic control surfaces. This new technology has shown in simulations and wind tunnel testing that gust loads can be alleviated by as much as 25%. This translates into a UAV being able to fly in more severe weather conditions. In particular, onboard sensors will be used to monitor stability changes and instruct the aeroservoelastic control surface actuators to rapidly carry out the necessary corrections. The proposed aircraft is a small and cheap to manufacture seaplane with modular construction also capable of launching from a rail (e.g. of a coast guard vessel). The modular construction of the UAV makes transportation and storage easier, only occupying a small space on the carrier vessel (coastguard ship). The UAV will be equipped with state-of-the-art electronics and cameras that will be linked wirelessly to the command centre of the carrier vessel. There will also be an onboard image recording system for easier analysis of the situation. The pilot flying this kind of aircraft will be positioned in the command centre and will control the UAV having altitude, directional and speed readings on a computer monitor which will also display the video pictures taken from the onboard cameras. The UAV will be built using lightweight materials such as balsa and composite materials and will have an endurance of 1 hour and a range of 50 miles. It will be equipped with aeroelastic systems that limit the impact of the serve winds and gusts on the flight behaviour of the aircraft. These innovative systems will represent the backbone of this project proposal. It will be cheap to built and maintain and it is estimated that the cost of acquiring and operating such a system wont exceed the cost of the fuel that a helicopter or a fixed wing aircraft consumes during these kinds of operations. Keywords: aero-elasticity, search and rescue, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
Project ID: 
3 931
Start date: 
01-11-2006
Project Duration: 
31months
Project costs: 
480 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Aeronautical technology / Avionics
Market Area: 
Other medical/health related (not elsewhere classified)

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