Congratulations to Prashin Sharma, a UM Master’s student in Aerospace Engineering who has been awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) “Best Student Paper” Award at the 2018 Atmospheric Flight Mechanics (AFM) Conference. Sharma, who will be starting his UM Robotics Ph.D. candidacy in September, won the award for a research paper entitled, “An Experimental Investigation of Tractor and Pusher Hexacopter Performance,” co-written with UM Aerospace Engineering Professor Ella Atkins.
The abstract reads:
“Multicopters are increasingly becoming popular for hobby and commercial applications. A variety of quad-copter, hexacopter, and octocopter configurations have emerged, yet few publications carefully investigate their performance. This paper contributes results from a series of dynamo-meter and wind tunnel experiments over different propellers, flight speeds, and angles of attack. A modular small hexacopter platform providing propulsion unit redundancy is tested in the standard tractor configuration and a less common pusher configuration. Static thrust as a function of propeller, motor RPM, and motor current were determined from dynamometer tests. The hexacopter was mounted on a load cell test stand, and data was collected in the University of Michigan’s 5’ x 7’ wind tunnel over different free stream flow speeds, motor thrust percentages, and hexacopter angle of attack. Results show the pusher configuration generates approximately 15% more thrust (lift) than do tractor propellers, however exhibit relatively poor lift to drag ratio. These results suggest that a pusher configuration will have higher efficiency for local-area surveillance applications requiring hover and slow flight, whereas a tractor configuration is more efficient for payload transport applications.”