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for the Shell Innovation Award
Platform for Environmental Research in Extreme Geographical Region using Integrated Navigation
Group Members
Laminn McLay, Jake Southern, Peter Wattle, Adrian Weishaeupl
Dr András Sóbester
The Boeing Company, Huck Nets (UK) LTD, Proto Labs, Ltd
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are well suited to deploying an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to previously unreachable regions. The current practice is to deploy an AUV via dinghy, a slow and potentially dangerous process. This project was initiated by the CASCADE programme to produce a means of delivering such an AUV from the helideck of a research vessel.

The chosen UAV design is of conventional, fixed-wing, layout; designed to be easily assembled, transportable and sustainable. The UAV takes off in less than 25m, using a large wing span with a novel hybrid propulsion system. An Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is used to provide a medium-range capability during cruise. The ICE charges the battery during cruise and powers the electric propulsion system in the wings. With integration of pre-existing payload attachment capabilities, the UAV carries the submarine and parachute (up to 5kg) and drops the payload over a targeted area. The UAV lands back onto the helideck, aided using an arrester hook and net landing. The UAV is also capable of carrying a multitude of sensors compatible with the payload attachment mechanism, making it a very versatile tool.

The use of an Aluminium chassis and composite skeleton ensures the overall mass is under 20kg with payload, whilst ensuring enough strength for operation in harsh conditions.

The UAV demonstrated a short take-off (with a 2.9kg payload) within 16m, successful
The prototype UAV deploying the payload (1).
The prototype UAV deploying the payload (2).
The prototype UAV deploying the payload (3).
The prototype UAV deploying the payload (4).
Exploded view of the prototype UAV.