Project title: Fly Without Borders with Additive Manufacturing: A Microscale Tilt-Rotor Tricopter Design
Project description: During a rescue mission, multicopters offer safe surveillance, mapping and delivery of light supplies to the inside of a collapsed structure for an outside rescuer. For greater functionality, the multicopter should be agile and small enough to maneuver tight spaces, and customized to carry necessary electronics to meet operational requirements. Bearing a smaller propeller area and superior flight dynamics over other multicopters, a 3D-printed microscale tricopter offers a customizable, lightweight, and compact solution to this setting. As such, this project explores a lightweight and fully customized fabrication of a 3D-printed microscale tricopter. Considering the features and flight electronics required, the microscale tricopter frame is designed and optimized in SOLIDWORKS to compactly incorporate the electronics with minimal parts. For the desired strength and durability, the parts are printed with Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) in the CUBICON 3D Printer. Tri-blade propellers are also used for a smaller blade area to keep the system compact. These methods produce a successful and stable micro-scale tri-copter weighing 519g and sizing 176mm (Radius) by 10mm (Height). Furthermore, we also demonstrate its tracking control in an indoor motion capture environment utilizing a nonlinear model predictive control (NMPC) framework, which is implemented on an on-board Raspberry Pi 3 embedded processor.