19.02.2021

The Smaller One – AGH UST students are working on design of manned aircraft


Rendered graphic of the helicopter in perspective. Pilot is laying on his stomach inside of the vehicle. The helicopter does not have a roof.

Rendered graphic of the helicopter without a pilot. Frame with four rotors.

Frame construction of the helicopter.

Members of the NewTech AGH Student Research Society are designing a manned aircraft called The Smaller One (T.S.O.). Based on a large-size drone, this aerial vehicle will be capable of lifting a person or load of up to 100kg, reaching speeds of up to 60 kph. The team of students behind the project have received a strategic Rector’s grant for its development.

T.S.O. has been designed as an octocopter on an X-plane – with eight motors mounted on its four arms. With the total lifting capacity provided by all motors peaking  300kg, the aircraft will be capable of lifting very heavy cargo. The total mass of the vehicle is 80 kg.  Its frame is made mainly from carbon fibre and milled aluminium. Some motors were made using additive manufacturing techniques. The drone is propelled by four pairs of Brushless Direct-Current motors. Power will be supplied by linked packages of lithium-polymer batteries, whose total weight will not exceed 55kg.

The students have already conducted lab tests on the motors and launched one of them together with a propeller at 75% of its full capacity. The young scientists are currently working on the design of a dedicated control interface, which will be a hybrid of standard control systems used in drones and helicopters. The upgraded version of the system will provide pilots with more intuitive means of controlling the aircraft. The strategic Rector’s grant of PLN 46 851 will be spent on the implementation and integration of the control interface and further extension of the design’s power system. This stage of the development work sees contribution from another AGH UST Student Research Society – AGH Drone Engineering. The Department of Machine Engineering and Transport has offered access to one of its high-ceilinged laboratory facilities, thus ensuring ideal conditions for further prototype testing. The team expects that their partnership with the Spartaqs Company will let them transform the prototype into a fully functional manned aerial vehicle.

Owing to its unique design, high mobility and innovative solutions, the large-size drone will find numerous applications, including mountain rescue operations as well as medical and industrial transport.

Young designers from AGH UST list the possible applications of T.S.O.:  “Rescuers will be able to reach the scene of an accident faster than ever before while the casualty will be quickly transported to a safe location. Our aerial vehicle will also carry larger cargo to specific destinations”.

NewTech AGH Student Research Society is affiliated with the Department of Power Systems and Environmental Protection Facilities at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics with Tymoteusz Turlej, DSc., acting as the team’s scientific supervisor. The group, which specialises in automation systems, robotics and manufacturing technologies, develops projects prioritising innovative and environmentally friendly solutions.