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Design and build of an Unmnanned Aerial Vehical seaplane for reconnaissance and successful return to base
Group Members
Gareth Caine, Emmanouil Garofalakis, Jeonghan Ho, Moriba Konate, Harry Moncrieff Macmillan, Harry Renson
Professor Andrew Keane
This project developed a reconnaissance-collecting seaplane UAV with a mass of 5.5kg and a flying endurance of 20 minutes. Although this has been attempted before, this UAV is the first of these dimensions to return to the ship undamaged.

Seaplane UAVs are used to collect useful information without disturbing the surrounding environment. It is important that these vehicles are light, easily disassembled and can be used in remote and harsh marine environments such the arctic poles. Our UAV aimed to fulfil these requirements.

In order to accomplish these goals, two models were built. The first model was used to test the principle preliminary designs which involved wind tunnel and water drop tests. The wind tunnel tests were performed to evaluate the aerodynamic lift and drag of the plane to compare with the analytical and numerical solutions. The water drop test confirmed that the floats provided sufficient buoyancy for the UAV application.

The final flying model is an optimised version of the wind tunnel model, involving detailed refinement and improvements such as alteration of parts, change of materials and manufacturing techniques. These involved computational fluid dynamics analysis focusing of the floats to test the drag, and finite element analysis of 3D printed parts to test the structural strength. The plane was tested in the airfield and successfully achieved its aims.
The prototype UAV in flight.
The prototype UAV in flight.
Exploded view of UAV.