Project NUAV is an initiative to diversify drone development at Northeastern University. With initiatives ranging from competitive drone racing to autonomous UAV development, NUAV appeals to a range of student interest by providing hands-on experience in constructing various systems. Students will review design considerations when it comes to designing and building UAV frames. These designs include experimental designs that have never been created before and allow one to use creative solutions to solve problems, as there is not always one answer. Skills taught in class like SolidWorks and force diagrams will be applied extensively, allowing students to understand their role in the professional world. Also, students will get to see their creation move from an idea to a physical product that will actually be implemented on UAVs. Not only focusing on the physical design of drones, RECON, a NUAV project, is focused on bringing computer vision and simulation to AeroSpaceNU. RECON is currently working towards creating and implementing the architecture for a terrain navigating drone that can fly through an environment on its own without operator input.
- Quad Camp NU: An educational project for the construction of first person view (FPV) drones in which students build, code, and configure quadcopters from scratch and learn to pilot them. Before any real flight can occur, students learn from simulators to experiment and understand the flight dynamics of a drone, which allow students to fly without consequences. Then moving on to micro drones, students will get used to piloting from the view of on-board cameras to eventually advance to larger and more advanced builds typically seen in competitions. Students will culminate in a full scale FPV flight in a high speed racing drone with an experienced pilot, who will act as safety pilot. We hope that students will learn of the excitement of witness something one built flying through the air at high speeds and performing complex aerobatic maneuvers.
- Swarm Carrier: Developing a heavy lift Octocopter that is capable of carrying an array of smaller parasite drones for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Search and Rescue. The main focus has been on developing a modular payload system for rapidly deployable autonomous parasite drones that are capable of individual tasking. This system would allow for large regions to be surveyed and monitored in denied environments. This platform requires a lot of unique components on the Octocopter to accompany the payload. The Octocopter has had custom designed fixtures which allow for mounting of essential flight controller systems, power systems, and payload rack. Taking industry experience and knowledge, NUAV has applied UAV industry standards to the construction and fabrication of this platform, and will continue to do so in the future with flight testing starting soon.
- Denied Environment Airborne Deployment System: The Denied Environment Airborne Deployment System is a part of the Swarm Carrier initiative to design modular payloads. Small, light beacons will be dropped from an UAV and scattered across the ground. Each beacon will contain an electronics package that will relay its position using a GPS and have basic networking capabilities. When activated, the beacons will broadcast to the team that the beacon is active and that someone is at that position. The search and rescue potential for this program is immense as it acts a force multiplier to users for covering a region that would take a large force with only a single user. This program will act as the first stepping stone towards developing parasite drones as it implements the fundamental skills that will be required in the future: networking, drop mechanisms, and programming. Physical prototyping and design have already begun starting Summer I of 2019, with testing projected to begin during Summer II.
- Solar Wing: Long Range UAV: Using existing flight controller, solar, and long range radio systems, NUAV members are constructing a unique airframe capable of autonomous operation with extended flight capabilities from solar power. Learning from VTOL, (the predecessor of Learn to Fly: FPV Racing) a PixHawk 4 flight controller is being used with capabilities ranging from autonomous flight to data logging. Previous testing on a commercial airframe with solar panels have proven that solar flight is sustainable and possible, validating the progress towards an even more light, efficient airframe. Following an initial prototype, we will incorporate long range radio systems, solar cells, and video systems for real-time flight monitoring.