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. In line with our motivation to educate students on UAV design, in the Fall of 2019, Quad Camp will return with not only commercial UAV racing drone construction but PCB and Solidworks design.
- Quad Camp NU: An educational project to teach students about the design, construction, and formulation of multicopter drones. Students will begin with the construction of first person view (FPV) drones in which they will 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. 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. Following the construction of racing drones, students will learn to design a racing drone from scratch, this means modeling the frames, prototyping designs, and manufacteuring the final model for flight. Just as integral as the physical design is to a drone, the electronics or brain of the drone, a flight controller is vital for its functionality. Guided by members, students will design their own flight controllers using PCB design software and IC construction practices. By the end of this camp, not will students experience how it is to fly a drone, but how they are made and what kind of considerations go into their function and construction.
- 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. A practical test of the swarm deployment system was conducted at the end of Summer II 2019 and has proved the viability of the concept. Further research and testing will develop the project further towards becoming a fully autonomous system.
- 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.
- Solar Wing: Long Range UAV: In August of 2019, Solar Wing took off for its final flight, a flight to test its airworthness with the additional weight and realistic charging abilities. The aircraft flew until it reached its set altitude, but due to maneuverability issues, the flight had to land early. Regardless of this early landing, Solar Wing was successfully charging during flight and had collected vital flight data pertinent to future projects. With the completion of the final flight, Solar Wing had accomplished its goal of creating a long range UAV with solar power charging capabilities. The project had come a long way from a utilizing a commercial airframe with cheap solar cells, to a fully member created airframe with efficient malleable solar cells. Dedicated project members have begun the documentation of all project data so it may be used in the years to come.