Practical vehicles are one of the most important topics in aerospace engineering. And helicopters which have well engineered rotors are really practical in all aspects. Next generation of rotorcraft has big steps in aerospace engineering. Especially military applications reach milestones in usability. Vertically movement abilities and armor capability are major specifications of military rotorcrafts. However advances in aerospace engineering are limitless in minds.
Simple design but critical engineering of rotorcraft is going further. In small scale there are broad applications which use rotorcraft technology. From agriculture to photography different type of rotorcrafts are used. Simple control units have great stability in small scale. What about big scale applications of new rotorcraft technologies?
If you are interested in science-fiction movies you should see a lot of different aviation vehicles had created in dreams. Fast moving, insane maneuver capability and more… Having a quadcopter like in Avatar movie can be one of your dreams. But beyond dreams what about engineering of these type vehicles? Is it really possible?
Small scale applications are one of the most efficient engineering field in aerospace engineering. However when you think to scale up vehicles in aerospace engineering, it is really hard to do. Because of volume and power balance aerospace engineering is one of the hardest fields about scaling up studies.
In smaller applications it is easier to control volume and power balance. However in applications like quatocopters, which are scaled to big ones, stability is biggest issue. When you increase power of the rotors complexity of control mechanism increases a lot. Advantage of small applications in quatocopters is using electric motors in designs. But it is not possible for big systems because of high power requirement. There is not such a electric or battery technology to use in bigger scale, yet.
For quadcopters there are many concepts that are working in design stage. Engineering calculations of these vehicles is not as bright as their designs. Especially in big scaled applications cost and efficiency of system is most critical issue. In comparison to helicopters, quadcopters are not stable. When you consider four rotors are working on a rotorcraft, it is really hard to have an engineering that can synchronize all movements. As a simple explanation for three axis movement of each rotor you have to control minimum 12 parameters for each movement. On the other hand cost of a big quadcopter is nearly four times higher than same sized helicopter.
Nevertheless, advantages of quadcopters are clear. Mechanical simplicity is really robust. Engineering is most basic part of having a big quadcopter. Piloting and control issues have to be developed, too.Taking advantage of simplicity is depended on mechanical design limits. New skills and engineering capabilities are going to be seen in the future. But knowledge about aerodynamics and materials science need to be considered and evaluated in aerospace engineering.
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