Sourav Sinha, a two-time Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship winner, is a graduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, one of the premier engineering universities in India. Sourav first won the scholarship as an undergraduate in 2018 after working on a novel design for a quadrotor convertiplane unmanned aircraft system (UAS) under the supervision of his advisor, Dr. Abhishek. This research was presented at Forum 73.
During the summer of 2017, Sourav participated in robotics and controls research at New York University under the supervision of Dr. Farshad Khorrami, where he carried out flight dynamic modeling and control development for a monoplane tail-sitter UAS. The techniques he learned there would later contribute significantly towards his current masters’ thesis on the development of an autopilot for the quadrotor convertiplane UAS concept.
For this design, Sourav developed a comprehensive flight dynamics model for the quadcopter convertiplane and used it to carry out the control design for the three different flight modes. The hover flight, though similar to that of the quadrotor’s, is augmented by the tilt of the rotors, therefore allowing independent control of the pitch attitude. Utilizing the tilt as control input also extends the yaw control authority. During the transition mode, the outer loop is modified so that it only maintains the altitude, with the attitude of the UAS controlled independently. An alternate controller has also been developed for transition in which the velocity can also be controlled while maintaining the altitude. During transition, the control is shared by the propellers and the conventional fixed-wing control surfaces; the allocation depends on the extent of transition and the velocity. During the fixed-wing mode, the control design is similar to that of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. Currently, Sourav has been working towards conducting flight tests on a 11-lb (5-kg) prototype to validate the autopilot for all three flight modes.
Dr. Abhishek is hopeful of his student’s progress, remarking, “It has been a great learning experience for both Sourav and me to work together on this exciting multidisciplinary problem of vertical flight technology that has kept us on our toes by throwing fresh new technical challenges on a daily basis. But, I am confident that Sourav would solve them all, through hard work and perseverance, to achieve success.”
After completing his masters’ degree, Sourav hopes to pursue a PhD in aerospace engineering and continue his research in the design, development and control of hybrid vertical lift aircraft.
VFF Scholar Spotlight: Vertiflite May/June 2019