Science

NASA UAV Utilizes Thermals To Stay Aloft

Posted 8 Oct 2005 at 20:24 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

NASA aerospace engineers working on the Autonomous Soaring Project at Dryden Flight Research Center have succeeded in extending the range of small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) by programming them to autonomously soar on thermals. The electric model aircraft flew over a predetermined track until it detected an updraft. Once the aircraft started to rise on the current, the engine automatically shut off and the aircraft circled to stay within the convective lift resulting from the thermal or updraft. The small UAV added 60 minutes to its flight time endurance by soaring autonomously over the thermals than it would have without using the thermals.

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