Design of an observation unmanned aerial vehicle to detect crop weeds from an asymmetric camera pod
Group Members
Peter Bell, Radostin Mitkov, Gabriel Raval, Rohit Vadlamud,i Brendon Wee
Professor Andy Keane
Northrop Grumman
Farmers today face greater challenges in maintaining larger farmland. Technology is placing an increasingly important agricultural role, with observation UAVs being widely used today to aid farmers in crop production. Crop weeds are a major problem faced by farmers, inhibiting crop growth, and contaminating harvested crops and thus, farmers face cost increases and yield losses. Therefore, detecting crop weeds will increase crop quality and farming productivity.

The tractor propeller electric powered aircraft with conventional high wing and inverted V-tail, is to survey a square one-hundred-acre field, with a minimum flight and live feed video duration of 30 minutes, to be able to locate areas of crop weed growth.

With a requirement to implement an asymmetric design, a wind tunnel test determined the locations of the fuselage and camera pod to minimise the induced yaw moments. FEA (Finite-element Analysis) was used to develop flight worthy aircraft components. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) was used to optimise the aircraft’s aerodynamics. MATLAB aided the team to size the power plant to fulfil propulsion and mission requirements.

The final design utilized additive manufacturing techniques to produce a flight worthy observation UAV weighing 6.079kg, capable of 30 minutes of flight. The triple camera system can record to storage, stream live feed video and perform object detection of crop weeds. The team’s asymmetric observation UAV proposes a unique solution, standing out from its competitors to present an attractive new fixed wing aircraft for farmers.
Exploded assembly of the UAV


Wind tunnel test


Aircraft take-off