UMD Recognized as Leader in Cyclocopter Development

UMD Recognized as Leader in Cyclocopter Development

UMD Recognized as Leader in Cyclocopter Development

Photo courtesy Jennifer Figgins Rooks.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Figgins Rooks.

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has sought an efficient design for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for U.S. Army reconnaissance use. Under ARL, the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology program's Collaborative Technology Alliance (MAST-CTA) was created to recruit research universities for this purpose, including the University of Maryland.

UMD's research team, All-Terrain Cyclocopter, was highlighted in the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International's latest Vertiflite magazine publication for its innovative cyclocopter design developed while working towards ARL's goal.

ARL wants autonomous (self-flying) UAVs that are small enough to fit in a soldier's hand, but can maintain stability in wind turbulence and traverse crowded environments.

As more traditional micro air vehicle (MAV) designs have proved unsuccessful in the past, MAST-CTA turned to a less conventional option: the cyclocopter.

A cyclocopter acts similarly to a helicopter, but moves with more control due to its design, which includes larger cycloidal rotors—similar to the cylindrical paddlewheels on riverboats—on either side of the vehicle, with rotating blades inside the rotors.

The decision by ARL to invest in cyclocopters brought UMD to the center of the program's research.

"The [cyclocopter] concept has been around for a long time," said Brett Piekarski, collaborative alliance manager at MAST-CTA, in the Vertiflite article, "but nobody had successfully demonstrated the capability in sustained controlled flight—which Maryland, of course, has done through a lot of developmental understanding of the program."

Thanks to the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, UMD has been at the forefront of cyclocopter development for years.

Beginning in 2011, UMD researchers performed the first-ever stable flight of a cyclocopter MAV. In 2015, they had the successful hover of the first palm-sized cyclocopter. And in 2017, they created the first cyclocopter capable of aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic locomotion—the vehicle that would be the recent highlight in their work for ARL.

Led by Inderjit Chopra, director of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center and Distinguished University Professor, the All-Terrain Cyclocopter team included Graduate Research Assistant Elena Shrestha, Undergraduate Research Assistants Brian Davis and Benjamin Williams, and mentors Vikram Hrishikeshavan, assistant research scientist, and Derrick Yeo, assistant clinical professor.

Moble Benedict was another key person working on the cyclocopter concept. Now an assistant professor at Texas A&M, Benedict is noted by the UMD team as a pioneer for cyclocopter research at Maryland.

The All-Terrain Cyclocopter team also recognizes the contributions of undergraduate research assistants who have been vital to cyclocopter development over the years, including Brooks Muller, Sachin Ramprashad, Gerald Andrews, Victoria Martz, Loic Barret, Paige Pruce, Jonathan Detero, David Hairumian, Logan Gibbs, Nicholas Rehm, and Max Schlussel.

In the latest publication of the AHS's Vertiflite magazine, All-Terrain's research contributions and advances in cyclocopter development were recognized in the article "Cyclocopter: Paddlewheel Propulsion Is Now Vertical and Multi-Modal" written by John M. Doyle.

Related Articles:
Clark School Aerospace Engineering Faculty Recognized by AIAA National Capital Section
Aerospace Engineering Students Win at AIAA YPSE Conference
Lockheed Martin Awards $3M to Clark School
Engineering Students Twice Victorious at International Rotorcraft Design Competition
Elon Musk Tweets Back
Students Shine at AIAA Region 1 Student Conference
UMD Opens Outdoor Flight Laboratory to Advance Autonomy, Robotics
Relive Totality With Clark School Images, Videos
Clark School Participates in Solar Eclipse
Alumnus Profile: Christopher T. Jones

July 6, 2017


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

2020 Energy Seed Grants Awarded

Researchers Work to Develop Custom Conformal N95 Masks

Researchers Aim to Sterilize N95 Masks for Reuse

In Race With Virus, Researchers Speed Development of Medical Equipment

GAMMA Group's Research on Emotional Modeling and Social Robotics Featured in Forbes

Srivastava wins NSF funding for integrated circuit fabrication security

Protection Collections Abound for Local Health Care Workers

UMD Launches Center for Materials Innovation

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar