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Proceedings Paper

Vibration energy harvesting for unmanned aerial vehicles
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Paper Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a critical component of many military operations. Over the last few decades, the evolution of UAVs has given rise to increasingly smaller aircraft. Along with the development of smaller UAVs, termed mini UAVs, has come issues involving the endurance of the aircraft. Endurance in mini UAVs is problematic because of the limited size of the fuel systems that can be incorporated into the aircraft. A large portion of the total mass of many electric powered mini UAVs, for example, is the rechargeable battery power source. Energy harvesting is an attractive technology for mini UAVs because it offers the potential to increase their endurance without adding significant mass or the need to increase the size of the fuel system. This paper investigates the possibility of harvesting vibration and solar energy in a mini UAV. Experimentation has been carried out on a remote controlled (RC) glider aircraft with a 1.8 m wing span. This aircraft was chosen to replicate the current electric mini UAVs used by the military today. The RC glider was modified to include two piezoelectric patches placed at the roots of the wings and a cantilevered piezoelectric beam installed in the fuselage to harvest energy from wing vibrations and rigid body motions of the aircraft, as well as two thin film photovoltaic panels attached to the top of the wings to harvest energy from sunlight. Flight testing has been performed and the power output of the piezoelectric and photovoltaic devices has been examined.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 April 2008
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6928, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2008, 692824 (18 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.774990
Show Author Affiliations
Steven R. Anton, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)
Daniel J. Inman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6928:
Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2008
Mehdi Ahmadian, Editor(s)

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