Mathematical Model of a Monocopter Based on Unsteady Blade-Element Momentum Theory

  • Gašper Matič, Marko Topič, Marko Jankovec
  • Journal of Aircraft, November 2015, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
  • DOI: 10.2514/1.c033098

What is it about?

This paper presents a simplified nonlinear dynamic mathematical model of a monocopter. A monocopter is an all-rotating unmanned aerial vehicle with a design inspired by a samara, which is the seed from a maple tree. The aim of the model is to describe the essential dynamics of a monocopter in various regimes of flight. The model is based on the unsteady blade-element momentum theory and combines methodologies that are found both in helicopter and wind turbine theories. A qualitative validation of the proposed model shows that the obtained simulation results are in good agreement with the empirical findings and the simulation results of a more advanced monocopter model. The results also agree with the predictions based on helicopter theory and the stability study of a samara seed. The paper demonstrates that simpler methods (such as the unsteady blade-element momentum theory) could be applied to develop efficient and computationally undemanding monocopter models, which are suitable for further research in the field of monocopter sensor and control systems.

Why is it important?

First, the paper demonstrates that it is possible to use simpler models of aerodynamic phenomena to build a simulator that still captures the essential dynamics of a monocopter - an all-rotating unmanned aerial vehicle. Second, the developed model of a monocopter can be used to better understand the dynamics and stability of these new vehicles and to help develop sensor and control systems that are very specific to these all-rotating vehicles.


Gašper Matič

Building such a simulation model is a great way to get better insight and understanding of the vehicle's dynamics, especially when it comes to stability. Since these vehicles rotate at very high velocities, it is very difficult to learn much about their dynamics through real-time observations. It is necessary to "slow their motion down" and "zoom in" in order to see what is happening. Using a simulation model is one way to achieve that. And when the model is built, it provides a very handy tool for developing and testing various control system ideas.

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