U AV to be in it to win it!
The IMechE’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Challenge asks undergraduate teams to design and build an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) before competing in a final ‘fly-off’, allowing them to work on cutting edge research, with real industrial applications.
Last year, 2nd year MechEng student Yun Hang Cho and 3rd year Aerospace student Jonathan Eyre formulated a plan to enter a Sheffield team into the 2015 competition. UAVs can be used to deliver humanitarian aid to remote areas where access is difficult. Their mission objective was to design, develop and deliver a system, which could autonomously deliver two 1kg packages, over 2 km, in under 2 minutes.
At the competition, the team achieved 3rd place overall and came 2nd in the design, manufacturing and business categories. They competed against 14 other teams from Universities across the country; developing an autonomous carbon fibre quadcopter, with image recognition technology to identify the drop zone and precisely deliver packages without any human interaction.
Throughout the last year, the team worked with Dr Simon Hayes and Dr Austin Lafferty at the Composite Systems Innovation Centre (CSIC) in Sheffield to create a complex carbon fibre structure using electrical curing techniques. Curing is traditionally done by ovens or autoclaves, which are expensive and inefficient. By applying a direct electrical current through the carbon structure, a resistance heater is created allowing for a similar level of cure but using considerably less energy.
The team is led this year by MecEng students Ilgit Ercan and Lewis Parsons, and with over 50 active members they continue to push the boundaries of engineering and technology. Working closely with academics and industry they continue to develop new and exciting UAV designs.