Sustainable Autonomous Solar UAV with Distributed Propulsion System
Solar-powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) solve the problem of loiter time as aircrafts can fly as long as sufficient illumination and reserve battery power is available. However, Solar-powered UAVs still face the problem of excessive wingspan to increase solar capture area, which detracts from maneuverability and portability. As a result, a feature of merit for solar UAVs has emerged that strives to reduce the wingspan of such UAVs. The purpose of this project is to improve energy use efficiency by applying a distributed propulsion system to reduce the wingspan of solar-powered UAVs and increase payload. The research focuses on optimizing a new design analysis method applied to the distributed propulsion system and further employs the novel application of solar arrays on both top and bottom of the wings. The design methodology will result in a 2.1-meter wingspan, which is the shortest at 2020, for a 24-hour duration solar-powered UAV.