Development of the QuadPlane – Design, Build, Modelling, Control and Flight Tests

The “QuadPlane” is a Hybrid Quadcopter-Aircraft system which is capable of taking off and landing vertically and transitioning to forward flight for cruise. In “VTOL/Quad” mode, the QuadPlane uses the four vertical trust motors; in “Hybrid” mode, the vehicle transitions between vertical and horizontal flight using different transition strategies; and in the “Cruise/Plane” mode, the vehicle behaves like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft with a forward thrust motor and is controlled using the ailerons, elevator and rudder.

System modelling and control in each operating mode has been carried out. A Hybrid Automaton governs the vehicle’s flight mode, based on the current and desired vehicle states. Different transition strategies have also been explored in simulation. Wind Tunnel tests are being carried out to understand and characterize airflow around the vehicle over the suite of operating conditions. Numerous flight tests have been conducted in “VTOL/Quad” mode in M-Air and more outdoor tests are underway to understand how the different transition strategies perform in the real world conditions.

Flight Test Video – VTOL Mode

Research on this project is being conducted by Akshay Mathur under the guidance of Prof. Ella Atkins.