Development of a cantilevered rotor-based meso-cyclocopter Conference Paper uri icon


  • This paper describes the design, development and flight testing of a meso-scale cyclocopter. Weighing only 29 grams, the present vehicle is the smallest cycloidal rotor based aircraft ever built. Unlike the previous cyclocopters, the current prototype utilizes a novel, light weight (3 grams) cycloidal rotor design, with cantilevered blades, having semi-elliptical planform shape and no exposed rotor shaft. To minimize bending deflections the blades use a unique, lightweight (0.15 grams each) but high strength-to-weight ratio unidirectional carbon-fiber based structural design and are fabricated using a specialized manufacturing process. The cycloidal rotor design was chosen through systematic performance measurements conducted using a custom-built miniature three-component force balance. Based on experimental parametric studies, a 4-bladed rotor and symmetric blade kinematics with pitch amplitude of 45 provided the highest thrust and power loading (thrust/power) and was used in the final rotor design. The airframe is fabricated using a combination of carbon-fiber and state-of-the-art 3D printing techniques. The attitude control strategy utilizes a combination of rpm-control of the two cycloidal-rotors/tail-rotor and thrust vectoring of the cycloidal rotors. The control strategy is implemented on a custom-built 1.3 gram autopilot, which uses a closed-loop proportional-derivative controller for hover stability. The vehicle has been systematically flight tested by tuning the feedback gains and has demonstrated stable hovering flight.

published proceedings

  • 7th AHS Technical Meeting on VTOL Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Autonomy

author list (cited authors)

  • Runco, C., Coleman, D., & Benedict, M.

complete list of authors

  • Runco, C||Coleman, D||Benedict, M

publication date

  • January 2017