Friday, September 2, 2011

No. 301: Electric-powered unmanned helicopter developed by a university (September 3, 2010)

An unmanned helicopter powered by electric motors was developed by a research team led by Prof. Kenzo Nonami of Chiba University. It is 30 cm wide and 30 cm high, and weighs 1.5 kg. Unlike the conventional helicopter, it has six rotary wings. It can carry up to 1 kg baggage. Unlike a helicopter driven by a gasoline engine, it has a very simple structure that a motor is directly attached to each of the six rotary wings. The research team used off-the-shelf motors and the carbon framework to make the production cost as small as possible. The team said that its helicopter could be put on the market for one million yen, one tenth of the price of a helicopter powered by a gasoline engine. In addition, it is very quiet because the diameter of each rotary wing is merely 20 cm. It is possible to remote-control it using the GPS of a PC with such accuracy within less than 50 cm. The maximum speed is 20 km/h. It has a higher carrying capacity than the existing electric helicopter because the revolution of each six rotary wings can be optimized depending on the velocity and direction of the wind. It will be helpful for the research and monitoring in times of disaster. The current problems are that it can fly only for 20 minutes at the maximum and it cannot carry much baggage as a gasoline engine-driven helicopter. The research team plans to increase the loading capacity to 3-5 kg by increasing the number of rotary wings.

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