Characterisation of a UAV Electric Architecture and Power Demand Profile for the Purposes of Improving Overall System Efficiency and Performance

Paper #:
  • 2011-01-2682

  • 2011-10-18
Owen, T., "Characterisation of a UAV Electric Architecture and Power Demand Profile for the Purposes of Improving Overall System Efficiency and Performance," SAE Technical Paper 2011-01-2682, 2011,
This paper presents a summary of several projects investigating the power generation and demand profiles of UAV power systems for the purposes of increasing overall system effectiveness.With an increasing presence of advanced energy generation and storage devices in UAV power architectures such as fuel cells, photovoltaics, super capacitors, etc., and an increasing potential to dynamically control a UAV system's load profiles, mission effectiveness can be substantially improved via intelligent power management techniques as well as through traditional efficiency improvements. Load scheduling, power smoothing and dynamic mission planning can all introduce energy saving and optimization opportunities, particularly when the characteristics of system loads can be matched with the energy storage and generation of the system.Traditionally, the biggest drain on an electric UAV system is the main propulsion system, however initial investigations into a typical mini UAV platform (≺20 kg) have indicated that a complex communication architecture and payload can present an energy drain of a comparable magnitude. In order to characterize the full impact of the constantly fluctuating system loads, a full simulation environment has been built that will simultaneously calculate the power demands of a UAV's propulsion, avionics, payload and communication systems as individual components in a UAV power profile model. The simulation environment also simulates the energy sources of the system, using typical steady state and dynamic characterizations. The effect of intelligent power management techniques can then be fully quantified via mission simulations.By understanding the changing demands in the system it is possible to introduce significant savings by predicting peak power demand periods, this will allow the potential to introduce some control to minimize the peak demands and optimizing the power architecture to be able to efficiently handle the peaks in the most efficient way possible.The simulation environment is supported by an integrated hardware test platform enabling validation of mission simulations before flight test.The paper will present and discuss the concept of the simulation environment and hardware test platform in the context of intelligent power management. A case study, focusing on an improved communications power architecture, is presented. It is intended that the work discussed in this paper will be used as a foundation in the analysis of intelligent power management systems in future work.
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