Vertical Take-off and Landing Drone Concept
June 6, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

Vertical Take-off and Landing Drone Concept
The "Sycamore" unmanned aircraft concept is a novel approach (at least to my knowledge) to providing both vertical take-off and landing and performance comparable to a fixed wing aircraft, all in the same package.

The Sycamore uses its entire body as a rotor during take-off (vertical flight shown in slow motion). Thus, vertical take-off does not require an external rotor or a thrust/weight ratio greater than one. When this UAV reaches a safe altitude, it transitions to horizontal flight as seen in the video.
Landing is the same sequence in reverse. The retractable landing gear ends in a simple rubber ball. When the engines are stopped, a dolly supports the aircraft on the ground.
posted by spacefire (2 comments total)

Interesting idea. Have you done any first order calculations about the sizing of this thing? How does it balance on the single landing gear to take off?

There was a Boeing (?) concept awhile back which I can't find right now that had a similar concept - the craft was shaped like a standard helicopter, but the rotor would lock in place and act as a conventional wing once it reached altitude. Don't remember where the linear propulsion came from.

Two potential problems I can think of: first, this is a lot of new technology to throw on a single aircraft. Morphing wings plus the "transition" technology would make this a big challenge to develop. It also seems like the mass is concentrated on the rim of the circle that it inscribes, which is going to really stress those rotary joints.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:24 PM on June 8, 2009

thanks for the comment backseatpilot. I know exactly which Boeing helicopter you are talking about, as I have a pocket-size guide on helicopters and this concept is featured in the inner cover.

I totally agree that this concept does require new technologies, such as engines capable of operating at about 7gs for a long period of time, during take-off, as well as morphing wings and control surfaces with two degrees of freedom.

During the first take-off transition, before it starts spinning, the engines will have to gymbal in order to keep the aircraft steady as it lifts from the dolly. Later on, as it starts spinning, gyroscopic and aerodynamic forces would take charge of that.

For sizing, here's the challenge. In order to keep the centrifugal forces on the engines low while at the same time have the outer portion of the wing produce enough lift for take-off, I looked at a wing span on the order of 16m (52ft). Pretty big. This assumed about 30m/s wing-tip/engine linear velocity, which might of might not be enough to lift the craft in the air.

I hope I get to expand on this concept more in the future, maybe get a grant to develop at least some of the technology required to make this aircraft a reality.
posted by spacefire at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2009

« Older Red Row Studio - Photography blog and gallery...   |   Not Powerless.... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.