Publication Detail

Conceptual Design and Simulation of a Small Hybrid-Electric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle



Suggested Citation:
Harmon, Frederick, Andrew A. Frank, Jean-Jacques Chattot (2006) Conceptual Design and Simulation of a Small Hybrid-Electric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Journal of Aircraft 43 (5), 1490 - 1498

Parallel hybrid-electric propulsion systems would be beneficial for small unmanned aerial vehicles used for military, homeland security, and disaster-monitoring missions involving intelligence, surveillance, or reconnaissance (ISR). The benefits include increased time on station and range as compared to electric-powered unmanned aerial vehicles and reduced acoustic and thermal signatures not available with gasoline-powered unmanned aerial vehicles. A conceptual design of a small unmanned aerial vehicle with a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system, the application of a rule-based controller to the hybrid-electric system, and simulation results are provided. The two-point conceptual design includes an internal combustion engine sized for cruise speed and an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack sized for endurance speed. A rule-based controller based on ideal operating line concepts is applied to the control of the parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system. The energy use for the 13.6 kg (30lb) hybrid-electric unmanned aerial vehicle with the rule-based controller during one-hour and three-hour ISR missions is 54% and 22% less, respectively, than for a four-stroke gasoline-powered unmanned aerial vehicle.