Published: Dec. 14, 2020

This year, IRISS is sponsoring Team  VORTEX. The project manager of the team is Bill Chabot, and his fellow group members are listed below in The VORTEX Bunch. 
Bill explains that the versatility of UAS in today's research groups is becoming a large necessity. As researchers strive to get the bleeding edge of data collection, it requires new and innovative ways to do so. Traditionally, UAS fell into one of two categories (fixed wing or multirotor), however being able to utilize the best aspects of each can lead to far improved methods of scientific data collection. This is what the VORTEX senior project team is trying to accomplish, by adapting the Drak fixed-wing commercial aircraft to have Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities.
In order to design the aircraft, the team had to understand and characterize the aerodynamics. Once the aerodynamic properties were better understood, the propulsion team could begin determining the necessary batteries, motors, and propellers. This was accomplished by using manufacturer specs and experimental data to create a full propulsion system model using MATLAB, allowing the team to choose between numerous combinations of components and compare their performance. The structures team was then able to design mounting solutions for the additional motors to be attached and properly account for the added forces. Many of the additional components to be manufactured will be 3D printed. The team will also be testing the material properties of the aircraft's components to validate their simulations and models. In order for the aircraft to fly properly, the team will implement an autonomous avionics and control system. The team will then utilize an avionics package provided by IRISS that will be tweaked slightly to meet the needs of their mission. The goal of the avionics team is to properly simulate and model control of the aircraft, to a fairly detailed level with a quality understanding of the system. Up to this point, the team has gone through several rounds of design review presentations with the Professional Advisory Board (PAB), and returned with great feedback. The next step for the team is to order the hardware and materials to begin manufacturing and testing.
Next semester will consist of testing the control system, propulsion system and structure, in order to compare to the model developed earlier. This will follow with fabrication and assembly of the aircraft. The goal is to have two functional aircraft to deliver to IRISS by the end of the semester and evaluate the results and performance.
AES link:

Vortex bunchVortex