Design and development of an unconventional VTOL micro air vehicle: The Cyclocopter Conference Paper uri icon


  • This paper discusses the systematic experimental and vehicle design/development studies conducted at the University of Maryland which culminated in the development of the first flying Cyclocopter in the history. Cyclocopter is a novel Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, which utilizes cycloidalrotors (cyclorotors), a revolutionary horizontal axis propulsion concept, that has many advantages such as higher aerodynamic efficiency, maneuverability and high-speed forward flight capability when compared to a conventional helicopter rotor. The experimental studies included a detailed parametric study to understand the effect of rotor geometry and blade kinematics on cyclorotor hover performance. Based on the experimental results, higher blade pitch angles were found to improve thrust and increase the power loading (thrust per unit power) of the cyclorotor. Asymmetric pitching with higher pitch angle at the top than at the bottom produced better power loading. The chordwise optimum pitching axis location was observed to be around 25-35% of the blade chord. Because of the flow curvature effects, the cycloidal rotor performance was a strong function of the chord/radius ratio. The optimum chord/radius ratios were extremely high, around 0.5-0.8, depending on the blade pitching amplitude. A flow field investigation was also conducted using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) to unravel the physics behind thrust production of a cyclorotor. PIV studies indicated evidence of a stall delay as well as possible increases in lift on the blades from the presence of a leading edge vortex. The goal of all these studies was to understand and optimize the performance of a micro-scale cyclorotor so that it could be used in a flying vehicle. An optimized cyclorotor was used to develop a 200 gram cyclocopter capable of autonomous stable hover using an onboard feedback controller. 2012 SPIE.

name of conference

  • Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications IV

published proceedings

  • Proceedings of SPIE

author list (cited authors)

  • Benedict, M., & Chopra, I.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Benedict, Moble||Chopra, Inderjit

editor list (cited editors)

  • George, T., Islam, M. S., & Dutta, A.

publication date

  • January 2012