AI News, World's Smallest Cyclocopter Brings Unique Design to Microdrones

World's Smallest Cyclocopter Brings Unique Design to Microdrones

A cyclocopter is a weird sort of aircraft that uses airfoils rotating around a horizontal axis to generate lift and thrust.

ProfessorMoble Benedict and graduate students Carl Runco and David Coleman at Texas AM’s Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory has been testing the smallest cyclocopter ever developed: It’s just 29 grams in mass, and could be a tiny step towards replacing helicopters and multirotors with something better.

Or, as Benedict explains, “With the blades cyclically pitched such that each blade has a positive geometric angle of attack at the top and bottom of the circular trajectory, a net thrust is produced.” The thrust vectoring is instant, making the cyclocopter very maneuverable, and (among other advantages) the vehicle can transition from, say, stable hovering to high-speed forward flight without needing to pitch itself over like a helicopter or multirotor aircraft.

At 800 grams, it wasn’t what you’d call large, but cyclocopters get particularly interesting at very small scales because of their combination of very high maneuverability and potential for excellent efficiency.

One of the biggest structural issues in cyclorotors is the fact that blades have to take large transverse centrifugal bending loads, and 100 years ago, we did not have the materials that had the strength-to-weight ratio to do that.

cycloidal rotor can achieve higher hover efficiency than a conventional rotor at smaller scales, because of the uniform aerodynamic conditions along the blade span and favorable unsteady aerodynamic phenomena on the blades.We have experimentally demonstrated the higher aerodynamic efficiency (thrust per unit aerodynamic power) of cycloidal rotors in comparison with conventional micro rotors used in multicopters and helicopters.

Unlike a traditional hybrid aircraft (e.g., a tilt-rotor), a cyclocopter can transition from hover to high-speed forward flight without any configuration change due to its thrust vectoring capability.

We had to come up with innovative carbon composite fabrication techniques to make the rotor blades (0.12 grams each) and pitch links (10 milligrams) and they needed to have sub-millimeter accuracy.

World's Smallest Cyclocopter (Texas A&M University)

The world's smallest cycloidal-based rotorcraft, or cyclocopter, has been recently designed, built and test flown successfully at Texas A&M University, Advanced Vertical Flight Laboratory...