UAV Design & Development
Mission Aldora works on the development of autonomous UAVs. It began studying and building concepts for VTOL aircraft, while today it is focused on the study of a concept mission to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
Aldora’s concept for Titan is based on the deployment of scientific probes from an aircraft in order to study difficult access locations, including the hydrocarbon lakes that exist on the surface of this moon. This would enable performing measurements in places where it would not be possible otherwise, as neither rovers could reach them nor aircraft could land, and it also provides a unique opportunity of studying the depths of the hydrocarbon lakes by providing the probes with buoyancy control. Furthermore, the probe system brings redundancy, as failure of an individual probe does not mean end of mission.
Aldora’s work consists of putting this concept to the test by performing an analog mission on Earth. A 3-meter wingspan airplane will be used, whose construction is nearing completion, to test this concept. The aircraft has been built mainly employing composite materials: fiberglass for the skin of the aircraft; carbon fiber for the wing spars, the spars of the horizontal and vertical stabilizer and for the main gear’s structure. Additive manufacturing has also been extensively employed for many parts, as it allows the use of shapes that could not be built otherwise, making it a very practical tool. Moreover, additive manufacturing has been the main tool used for making the moulds for the composite parts. The development of the electronics has already been completed and are soon to be integrated into the aircraft. The deadline for flight-readiness is the 22nd of December 2022.
Past flight-readiness, the probe system, which already has a preliminary design and functional prototypes, will ultimately be finished and the analog mission will be performed to fulfill the ultimate goal of testing the concept.
Thanos is the name of the Earth-flight aircraft being developed to perform the analog of the mission to Titan and is the current focus of the mission. All the details can be seen above in the mission description.
This was the second aircraft of the project and with which the Alpha 2 design was improved. In the aerodynamic design the flying wing structure was preserved but a tail rudder was added to improve its stability. An engine was added to the propulsion system, achieving a total of 5 engines, four for vertical flight and one for horizontal flight. The framework was continued printing with the HP MultiJet Fusion.
Changes in the aerodynamic and propulsion design made the autonomous control system viable. The problem with this design was the weight of the 3D printing that prevented the prototype from being tested in a real situation.
This was the first aircraft of the project and with which the first technologies and concepts that inspired the project were tested. The aircraft was fully autonomous capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). It has 4 motors that serve for take-off and landing as well as for horizontal flight. Thanks to the collaboration with HP, the structure of the drone was made with its 3D MultiJet Fusion technology.
The difficulties that this design presented for autonomous flight and the propulsion system caused this design to be shelved.