Pressurized Structures Technology for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Report No. ARL-TR-5436
Authors: Harris Edge, Ainsmar Brown, Jason Collins, Rajneesh Singh, Surya Dinvahi, Daphne Pappas, Andres Buhanda, Muthuvel Murugan, Michael Coatney, and Nathan Slegers
Date/Pages: January 2011; 58 pages
Abstract: Several areas of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) performance need to be improved for the next generation of UAVs to be used successfully in expanded future combat roles. This report describes the initial research to improve the performance of UAVs through the use of lighter-than-air or pressurized structures-based (PSB) technologies. Basically, we examined how to construct the UAV in such a way that a considerable percentage of its weight will be supported by or composed of inflatable structures containing air or helium. In this way, PSB technology will reduce the amount of energy required to keep the UAV aloft, thus allowing the use of smaller, slower, and quieter motors. Using PSB technology in tandem with improving technologies in electronics, energy storage, and materials should provide a substantial increase over current UAV performance in areas needed by the military.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: January 1, 2011