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Control System Design and System Testing for Hybrid Electric UAV Power Systems

Company: Lockheed Martin

Primary: EE
Secondary: ME

Non-Disclosure Agreement: NO

Intellectual Property: NO

Current electric VTOL drones typically are limited to an endurance of 1 hour or less due to the weight of state-of-the-art batteries. Hydrogen fuel cell powered UAV’s are starting to increase vehicle endurance, but are slow to gain entrance into the market due to the challenges of supplying hydrogen. A hybrid propulsion pack would enable current UAV’s to have extended mission endurance, while minimizing impact to the supply chain and user experience (some hybrid drones are coming to market with 4-5 hour endurance). The team will utilize and improve upon an existing hybrid power system designed for a specific UAV (Multicopter). The primary project scope is to design a closed loop control system capable of responding to variable load demands, performance characterization through testing, and small mechanical/electrical improvements to the hybrid system. The system design is constrained by existing space and weight requirements. The final system architecture should be a modular design, capable of interfacing with multiple UAVs of similar power ratings. The team will be expected to design a control system capable of starting the system and controlling its power split during operation. Through rigorous testing they will quantify the performance of the system (specific fuel consumption across a range of output powers) which they will be able to use to show the performance change of the UAV when switching from battery to hybrid power. After quantifying the performance of the system the team will power a representative UAV thruster with the hybrid system to show the closed loop control system is capable of providing stable and sustained power at varying loads. This project will be a multidisciplinary project requiring team with software, electrical, testing, and mechanical skills to be successful.



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