Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2016-JAN 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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57 unmanned systems inside December 2016/January 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. sity specializing in aviation and aerospace. "We get people running about 30 simulations a day with MachUp, asking for aerodynamic data on a geometry." Robert Niewoehner, professor of aeronau- tics at the U.S. Naval Academy, has been using MachUp since this summer in his classes. "I'd written codes a decade ago for my students' use, employing the same algorithms, but Ma- chUp was much more advanced and f lexible than my own," Niewoehner said. "So I retired my own codes to use MachUp, and my under- graduate students are actively using it now." "It's very flexible with geometries on the lift- ing surfaces, to include winglets, tailless de- signs, canards, multiple control surfaces, and so on," Niewoehner said. "There's no software to download, as the web version calculates solutions on the server end. Dr. Hunsaker has graciously made the software freely available for student and hobby use. Calculations are very fast, and re- sults are easily exportable to MATLAB or simu- lation software. Dr. Hunsaker has also provided tutorial videos on his website, which successfully got my students up and running quickly." Samuel Weiss, now a mechanical engineer at Teal Drones in Utah, used MachUp for roughly three years. "I think it's great," Weiss said. "I use it whenever I'm at the beginning of a design cycle. I can create basic geometries and get basic analy- ses in a few minutes. I can quickly go through a dozen or more configurations and compare them all with each other. The ease of creating and ana- lyzing geometries is great for the conceptual and creative part of the aircraft design process. And I can take screenshots to show people what de- signs look like in general terms instead of using 3-D modeling software like SolidWorks, which is more time-consuming." Weiss was lead aircraft designer and engi- neering manager at Utah State University's Ag- gieAir. While there he used MachUp to design an aircraft called BluJay, an aerial platform that weighed about 25 lbs., had a 10-foot wingspan, and could fly for about 3.5 hours on two lithium batteries. As director of f light testing and air- craft development at Vayu, Inc., in Michigan, he used MachUp "to develop a tandem-wing tran- sition aircraft that could hover like a quadcopter and f ly like an airplane," Weiss said. He hopes to use MachUp at his new job at Teal. Pending Improvements Hunsaker noted that they have "lots of ideas to further improve MachUp." For instance, "right now MachUp is good for designing fixed-wing aircraft, but can't do quadrotor aircraft," Hunsaker said. "We are working on it, though—we know quadrotors are of big in- terest in the drone world." In addition, "right now people can put a ge- ometry into MachUp and hit analyze, and it will tell you the lift and drag and other factors of that airframe, but what people really want is a way to optimize the airframe, and we're looking to streamline that process for users," Hunsaker said. "Maybe instead of putting in a geometry, users can put in a mission profile— to carry a given payload at a given altitude at this velocity for a certain amount of time—and MachUp can provide a viable geometry that one can then tweak." "Another direction has to do with propel- lers," Hunsaker said. "Until now, big players weren't focused on drones, so there's a need to im- prove predictions of aerodynamic performance at the slower speeds that drones operate at compared with the rest of the world of aero- dynamics." All in all, Hunsaker hopes that drones have a bright future in front of them, in part due to MachUp. "A lot of people associate drones with killing things, but there are so many applica- tions for drones other than that," Hunsaker said. "Once the public latches onto the power that unmanned aircraft offer to advance our lives, I think in the next 10 or 15 years, they'll become far more prevalent and accepted." "THERE'S NO SOFTWARE to download, as the web version calculates solutions on the server end." Robert Niewoehner, professor of aeronautics, U.S. Naval Academy looking to streamline that process for users," Hunsaker said. "Maybe instead of putting in a geometry, users can put in a mission profile— to carry a given payload at a given altitude at this velocity for a certain amount of time—and MachUp can provide a viable geometry that "Another direction has to do with propel- The MachUp software gives users both renderings of an airframe and its aerodynamic properties.

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