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NASA is exploring drone aerodynamics using computers

16 January 2017

NASA has used computer models to simulate the flow of air around a small, battery powered drone; a modified DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter.

NASA is exploring drone aerodynamics using computers (Credit: NASA/YouTube)

This drone has four rotors which generate enough thrust to lift it and its payload off the ground. During the experiment, NASA researchers added four more rotors to study the effect on the drone’s performance. The computer revealed the complex motions of air due to interactions between the rotors and the x-shaped frame during flight. The increase of rotors produced nearly double the amount of thrust.

Using computer models can help engineers test designs and improve the performance of next-generation vehicles. The results of this experiment offers new insights into the design of autonomous, heavy-lift, multirotor vehicles for multiple uses in applications such as cargo transportation. 

This research was presented at the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas, by Seokkwan Yoon of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames.

The original article was written by Kayvon Sharghi. 

Video courtesy of NASA’s Ames Research Centre.

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