Sky Tech has been focused on moving into more specialist drone areas ahead of BVLOS becoming more common place in the near future. This summer we had the opportunity to work on a drone design project with intern Elsa Larsson. Our business isn’t currently strong enough to support full time R&D staff and this provided an excellent opportunity to work on some new ideas over an 8 week period. Our intention has firstly been to perform a more hands on drone design and build project but the Covid-19 outbreak made this difficult to execute. After careful consideration we decided to commit to the project in a remote manner allowing Elsa to work from home performing research and design.
The project was to design and build Sky Techs first drone. Previously we have built many drones from kit airframes with little knowledge into matching flight characteristics to task and payload. We began working on a spec some weeks before the internship began to allow Elsa adequate time for her design. We set up some digital tools to help communication and of course had many Zoom meetings. After the first week researching the problem domain she began studying aerodynamic design and created a Matlab script to optimised the shape and size of the aircraft. David was tasked with electronic design and manufacturing out of the home garage! Some of these details such as size and weights were input back into Elsa’s calculations before she moved on to design in Fusion 360.
David manufactured the fuselage out of model plywood via CNC cutting. Small connectors to join various carbon fibre parts were 3D printed. And finally wing profiles were cut using a hot-wire cutter which David had to build specially for the build to accommodate the large wingspan.
As of time of writing final manufacture and testing is incomplete. We look forward to trails in the next couple of months to assess the performance of this exciting drone!
It was a pleasure working with Elsa and she delivered an excellent project and final report. Many of the tasks at the time were outside of her skill set not being straight aero mechanical student and never having designed or flown a drone before. She picked up new skills very quickly researching new areas of aero mechanical and learning Fusion 360 to provide production quality model within a couple of weeks.
Before she finished we recorded a small video on our experience working together on the project during Covid-19. Apologies for the poor qualitt from the Zoom recording.