Students develop a quadcopter for NASA competition

A team of Miami electrical engineering students are developing a Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) to compete in a NASA competition next year.

UAS prototype

The set up to test rotation rate              

The team, with the aid of electrical engineering faculty member Jim Leonard,  have been developing a quadcopter UAS system since January that can tackle the difficult tasks set by the contest.

So what are the tasks exactly?

This contest challenges teams to build a UAS and compete in a two part competition. The teams UAS are tasked to carry a ½ pound for over 50 miles, and have a solar powered aircraft that carries a camera 400 feet into the air for 24 hours. The teams are judged on the performance of there device against these difficult goals. 

These tasks require a lot from the teams and their systems.These goals are set knowing the limited technology that the students have access to, but the judges desire to see how the students handle these difficulties.

Leonard planning on creating a team for the next competition. Butler Rural’s generous donation of $2500 to the electrical engineering department for the UAS project will allow the students to have more access and exposure to aeronautics and develop a UAS that could strive to tackle these goals.

So far, students have tested the propeller lift of their UAS and measure the rotation speed.  In the future, they plan to measure the power and current of different solar panels, and discover the optimal angle of the solar panels to catch light without shadowing adjacent panels.

By Maggie Cavanaugh