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City students have added yet another chapter in the evolution of drones by producing perhaps the most advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) yet. The drone, built by Team Vyoma, a group of engineering students and professionals from R. V. College of Engineering, will feature in the SAE Aero Design Challenge 2012, an international aero design competition conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in collaboration with NASA and Lockheed Martin. Incidentally, Team Vyoma is the first ever Asian team to qualify for the competition to be held in Georgia, USA from April 27 to 29.
Weighing just 300 grams, the UAV could well be what the military needs to step up surveillance and reconnaissance in border areas as it can be launched by hand. It can also carry a payload twice its weight. Naveen BL, a member of the team, said the hand-launched aircraft eliminates the need for a runway. “The military’s areas of operations rarely offer suitable conditions for ground take-off. Our UAV will come in handy as there is no need for a runway. The aircraft travels at an average speed of 25 meters’ per second at an altitude of about 150ft. The aircraft is propelled by an electric motor powered by a Li-Po (Lithium Polymer Ion) battery. The current design is one of the lightest unmanned aircrafts ever built. The weight of the aircraft (excluding the payload) is only about 300 grams.” The aircraft is made of composite materials that have high strength-to weight ratio so as to reduce the weight of the plane. However, no compromise has been made on structural strength. Said Mruthunjaya Jali, “To achieve such a feat, the team has worked on materials such as polycarbonate, fiberglass and carbon fiber composites in addition to traditional materials like balsa wood and aluminium. Avionics has also been used to optimise the design of recording and transmitting important flight data to a ground station in real time.” Competition rules stipulate that the entire aircraft has to be designed built and test flown by students alone. Team members say it challenges them to go beyond the limits of their textbooks and explore concepts not covered in their academic syllabus, thus enhancing their engineering and managerial skills. “The project involves engineering knowledge from various disciplines and has students from the Mechanical, Electronics and Electrical departments,” said Mughilan T. R., another member of the team. Was it tough for students to manage their studies while also devoting time to the project? Deepak M said, “Balancing academics and the project work within the available time is one of the biggest challenges for the team. We work for about three hours on the project after classes on weekdays and about seven hours on weekends. Some members even work throughout the night during weekends.” The team is now preparing a report on the project to be submitted to NASA before March 29. The Nrupathunga Kannada Koota in Atlanta, USA will sponsor the team’s local travel, food and accommodation during the competition in the US, Shahanawaz Sagar, a member of the team said.
Courtesy: Times of India
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