Inspired by birds, a new area of resaerch investigates the use of naturally ocurring phenonmon wihting the atmosphere (such as thermals or updrafts) for extending the range and endurance of UAS. Birds such as seagulls are well adept in orographic soaring, which involves using the updrafts around large obstacles for gaining height. This concept is explored by RUASRT for UAS by numeric and experimental techniques to measure the flow fields around buildings
Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) have energy storing restrictions because of their small size, preventing long endurance compared to bigger Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Micro Aerial Vehicles development have benefited from miniaturising batteries and on-board electronics; however, range and endurance are still limited. Harvesting energy from the surrounding environment offers potential to increase range and endurance significantly.
RUASRT is investigating different methods in to detect and quantify the harvestable energy. Suburban environments are typical for MAV operations, and the complex flow patterns that occur can be beneficial for allowing an MAV to gain height and soar further or even recharge on-board batteries through regeneration. Understanding the flow patterns around buildings in suburban environments with particular attention to the updraft of airflow upstream of the building’s roof top is therefore a research focus for RUASRT.