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UAV: Helicopter project

The purpose of this project was to construct a helicopter UAV platform to support control algorithm research at Purdue University. This report will discuss the reasons for developing a helicopter UAV, design considerations of the helicopter UAV, and autopilot selection and configuration. This work builds directly on the fixed wing UAV development work of Jesse Jones and Juan Carlos Vergara in Spring 2006.

A helicopter UAV has a number of benefits over a fixed wing UAV as a control algorithm test platform. While a fixed wing UAV has already been developed and tested as a platform for testing these control algorithms, a helicopter provides even more possibilities. On of the largest problems with the fixed wing aircraft is the relatively high airspeed required to maintain lift. High airspeed results in large turning radii and, due to antenna range considerations and visibility concerns, and limited number of controlled turns that can be executed. helicopter UAV platform has the ability to hover and maintain lift at very low forward velocities as well execute zero radius turns. This slower airspeed and low forward velocity allows for simulated environments to be much smaller and gives the algorithm more decision time. One large drawback to helicopter UAVs is the relatively small lift and flight time of most commercial models available.