Indigenous Production of robotic Aircraft using Natural and Environmentally friendly Materials from and for the Amazon region
Group Members
Gaia Battezzati, Alberto Bosco, Craig Thompson, Priscilla Ting, Rebecca Toomey
Professor James Scanlan
Amazon Charitable Trust, Dr Ewan Kirk
The IPANEMA project was conceived by the Amazon Charitable Thrust to improve the livelihoods of traditional populations in the Brazilian Amazon and help them alleviate the danger of forest fires by employing robotic aircrafts. The aim of this project is to design and manufacture a fixed wing drone that can be built and repaired by Amazonian communities. The focus is to create a simple structural design from resources available in the village that can be manufactured using limited tooling and engineering knowledge. The project undertaken in collaboration with the Federal University of Manaus who developed the payload for fire monitoring.

Following an iterative design process, three prototypes were developed, manufactured, and tested. Each iteration followed an analogous process. The conceptual design phase consisted of a literature review, low cost computations and constraint analysis. In the preliminary design phase, FEA, CFD, stability simulations and floating numerical analysis were performed to optimise the design. The final design was manufactured in the detailed design phase and then validated through floating , wind tunnel, engine and structural testing. Finally, in the design review phase, potential issues were identified, and improvements were implemented in subsequent iterations.

Innovative materials and systems were designed and tested to reduce the impact of the UAV on the Amazonian environment. Two natural skins, paper mache and “green” composite, were employed on the UAV. Both materials utilise a tailored manufacturing process, which ensures replicability in the Amazon using locally sourced materials. Additionally, a dual fuel system employing locally produced bioethanol was developed to limit the usage of petrol and greenhouse gas emissions.
Anottated final design
Dual fuel system configuration


Final design proposal exploded view
Final design proposal exploded view