Design and manufacturing of a solar powered unmanned air vehicle

Özcan, Servet Güçlü
The aim of this thesis is to describe the conceptual design, performance analysis including solar energy collection and manufacturing process of a solar powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and validate the design through ground and flight tests. Through a literature survey of solar powered aircraft, main design requirements are chosen. The solar powered UAV designed for this study is a small scale aircraft and intended to be used simply and frequently by end-users. Therefore it is designed as a flying wing, to lower the cost of the manufacturing by simplifying the process. The manufacturing process is evaluated for further simplification and cost-effectiveness.\\ For ease of production, the flying wing is cut out from EPP/EPS foam blocks by hot wire, as two wings and one blended center piece (fuselage). The reinforcing structures are embedded in these foam-cut parts and two transparent winglets are assembled to the wing tips. At this step, the flying wing made its maiden flight without the solar panels to verify the design. After the maiden flight, solar panels are embedded on to the wings and ground test is conducted to verify the estimations on the solar energy collection by these panels. Lastly, the solar flying wing is flown a second time to observe its performance including the solar panels.