Development of the advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
The main goals and objectives are to enhance the flight performance and specifications (high-altitude, long-endurance and large-cargo capacity) of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) prototype using several advanced technologies like computational fluid dynamics, active flow control (AFC) of boundary layers, composite materials, 3D printing, avionics and artificial intelligence.
The project has been started at the end of 2017 to run first virtual prototyping of the concept using the long-term expertize of the team in aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics and CAD modeling. As the first step the principal operation scheme and target specifications of the concept were established like the UAV's shape, type and number of engines / propellers as well as required critical technologies and avionics.
At the end of July 2018 the project has been achieved the first significant milestone. Using high fidelity CFD simulations the qualitative proof of the Active Flow Control (AFC) concept, implemented to a simple bluff-body, was demonstrated. It was able to significantly improve the flow aerodynamics (decrease the drag force) by vanishing a massive recirculation zone (close to zero) behind the vehicle. Both, the steady-state and transient CFD analysis demonstrated the same results.
By the end of October 2018 we have achieved the next project milestone. Based on the high fidelity CFD simulations (both, the conventional Reynolds-averaged and Large-eddy simulations) a new fixed-wing UAV concept based on the bluff-body profile and the integrated Active Flow Control (AFC) was designed. The CFD results demonstrated high potential of the new concept towards the ultimate lift performance. The new design proved significant (around 10 times!) improvement of the aerodynamic quality (lift-to-drag ratio) compared to the similar fixed-wing UAV without AFC.
As the next step, we continue to advance the new fixed-wing UAV concept with the AFC technology to integrate it with the propulsion system.