Expandable Drone

Abstract

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for Expandable Drone

Background:

Although many different styles and designs exist, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as “drones,” meant for consumer and commercial use typically consist of the main body from which multiple rotor assemblies extend. Usually, the main body contains one or more batteries, a control system, transceivers, sensors, and various hardware. The rotor assemblies (nacelles) usually consist of one or more motors and one or more rotor blades with electrical connections back to the batteries and control system in the main body. When spinning, the rotors displace a volume of air providing lift to the drone. The amount of air displaced, along with the force with which it is displaced, determines the lifting capacity (or payload capacity) of the drone.

Invention Description:

This invention is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, composed of modular, self-contained nacelles of different types (e.g., control nacelle, rotor nacelle, battery nacelle, camera nacelle, utility nacelle, etc.). Nacelles can be easily attached together and detached. Any number of nacelles can be employed yielding a drone with the number of rotors, batteries, and mission capability required for the application. Lifting capacity can be increased or decreased by adding or removing rotor nacelles. Flight time can be increased or decreased by adding or removing battery nacelles. Mission capability can be tailored to the application by adding or removing cameras or utility nacelles.

Potential Applications:

The use of heavy-lift drones in firefighting and emergency response (including bulk materiel delivery) is limited by the lack of low-cost, easily configurable drones with variable payload capacity—something this invention seeks to overcome.

Advantages and Benefits:

Existing drones are limited in payload capacity and flight time by their design not allowing additional rotors and batteries to be added as needed. The invention described herein allows any number of nacelles to be attached together to yield a drone configured with the payload capacity required for the application. This will lower the cost of heavy-lift drones and facilitate the introduction of drones into new markets and applications.