Design Excellence Award

AWRA – Tornado Chasing UAV

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Design Excellence Award, Group Design Project
Design, build and test of an adverse weather unmanned aerial vehicle able of taking atmospheric data from inside a tornado
Group Members
Edward Barnicoat, Patrick Bright, Rodrigo Gil Marin, Cassie Phillips, Tom Reed, Nathaniel Rowan, Dilaksan Thillaithevan

Dr András Sóbester, Professor James Scanla

Shapeways Tekever University of Missouri, Kansas City

There is currently no reliable method of retrieving metrological data from adverse weather systems, specifically tornadoes. Adverse Weather Research Aircraft’s (AWRAs) mission was to create an affordable, reliable method of collecting this data. The project was conducted in collaboration with a team of undergraduate students from the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), responsible for a ground vehicle counterpart.

Using rapid prototyping techniques, the project quickly delivered ABS 3D printed components, hot wire cut wings, and a carbon fibre skeleton, which allowed the group to manufacture and successfully fly a functional UAV in a three month timeframe. Sensor packages capable of recording temperature, pressure, humidity, latitude, longitude, and altitude from within the tornado were also designed and built.

A further forty-nine test flights were carried out between RAF Beaulieu in the United Kingdom and Lees Summit Park in the United States over the following five months. Each test flight provided new data, to direct modification and improvements, supporting a rapid design process.

AWRA can take-off vertically from a tail sitting position whilst carrying three sensor packages. Flying for more than 15km at over 70mph and deploying each sensor package independently.

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