Fully Actuated Propeller Mount Design For Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Tech ID: 29561 / UC Case 2018-599-0

Summary

UCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel system to allow an unmanned aerial vehicle to assume any orientation or position in three-dimensional space, with the use of fully actuated propellers.

Background

Traditional unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as remote-controlled helicopters, multi-rotors, and quadcopters are “under actuated” systems in that they possess fewer control inputs than available degrees of freedom. Under-actuation limits the flying ability of such vehicles by limiting the range of attainable maneuvers and precludes the possibility of achieving and maintaining any arbitrary orientation. To allow for full orientation control, it is necessary to develop an alternative mechanical and actuation method to fully control an unmanned aerial vehicle with six or more degrees of freedom.

Innovation

The inventors have developed a system to fully control the orientation and position of an unmanned aerial vehicle with use of fully actuated propellers. An onboard power system and an onboard control system power and control actuators to independently or cooperatively control the direction and magnitude of generated thrust vectors along any arbitrary direction without joint limitation. This could result in an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of assuming any orientation in three-dimensional space. The concept may be applied to any multi-rotor type unmanned aerial vehicle regardless of the number of propellers.

Applications

  • All unmanned aerial vehicles

Advantages

  • Allows UAVs to assume any orientation or position in three-dimensional space
  • Control the direction and magnitude of generated thrust vectors independently or cooperatively 
  • Introduces two additional angles to the thrust force generated by each propeller (as opposed to only one in conventional designs)
  • Enables control (variable change of angle) of both degrees of freedom (as opposed to simply rigidly fixing the angles as is done in other designs) 
  • Mechanism is free of joint-angle limits, mechanical limits/stops, and kinematic singularities; i.e., it is able to continuously rotate in both degrees of freedom without physical interference or limitations

State Of Development

A fully functional prototype have been developed with off-board power capability, with plans to make it onboard in the near future.

Patent Status

Patent Pending

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Inventors

  • Tsao, Tsu-Chin

Other Information

Keywords

Actuator, unmanned aerial vehicle, orientation, control, degree of freedom, propeller, thrusts

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