For decades, NASA has used computer models to simulate the flow of air around aircraft in order to test designs and improve the performance of next-generation vehicles.
At NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, researchers recently used this technique to explore the aerodynamics of a popular example of a small, battery-powered drone, a modified DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter.
The Phantom relies on four whirring rotors to generate enough thrust to lift it and any payload it’s carrying off the ground. Simulations revealed the complex motions of air due to interactions between the vehicle’s rotors and X-shaped frame during flight.
As an experiment, researchers added four more rotors to the vehicle to study the effect on the quadcopter’s performance. This configuration produced a nearly twofold increase in the amount of thrust.
The findings offer new insights into the design of autonomous, heavy-lift, multirotor vehicles for uses such as cargo transportation.
This research was presented at the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas, by Seokkwan Yoon of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames.
Problem is that when you have something with the efficiency of a flying brick, it does not really help getting minor efficiency improvements.
So, as I understand it, this model illustrates the movement of air that is counter to the air which is actually providing the thrust?
It is really nice to see some serious aerodynamic simulations after all this time.
Basically until now it has just been stick some motors on the end of some sticks and see if we can get it to fly.
From looking at the simulation even the 3rd generation Phantom looks like it has a long way to go.
Probably end up with the rotors back under the motors where Dr. Paul Pounds in Australia told us they should go 10 years ago.
really...? they doubled the number of rotors and were surprised by the fact that it nearly doubled the thrust?