The AEROLYNX is a composite, fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle customized for aid in natural disaster relief of mountainous terrain. Equipped with thermal imaging, a flight plan will be assigned from the ground station and the AEROLYNX will autonomously complete the desired mission by utilizing an array of onboard sensors. Weighing only 35lbs, the aircraft will be launched from a railed ramp system in the event of an emergency. Capable of a loiter velocity of 40mph and a 6-mile telemetry radius, the AEROLYNX will efficiently arrive to disaster affected areas and instantaneously relay critical information to search and rescue crews. Designed for high altitude mountain regions, the wingspan will be 8ft wide, with similar features to a standard glider. A lightweight 4-kilowatt electric motor, powered by an 11lb 44.4V lithium polymer battery will provide the necessary lift required to cruise at altitudes up to 15,000 feet.
Wildfires destroy millions of acres of wilderness each year, and cost an upwards of $2 billion8 directly funded from public government agencies. These costs can be attributed to the use of air tankers used to suppress the fires, and the hundreds of firefighters working on the frontline. An aircraft like the AEROLYNX will contribute to recognizing early warning signs of hot spots and help to interpret the spread of wildfire using thermal imaging.
Additionally, the AEROLYNX will be capable of avalanche victim detection. It will be equipped with a digital, three-antenna avalanche beacon transceiver that is able to receive signals at approximately 200 feet. A thermal camera will be simultaneously scanning the area to record any heat signatures detected near the snow's surface. Global positioning coordinates will cross-reference any relevant data and be transmitted to the ground station. In the case of a flood, the same sequence of instrumentation will be utilized. Rescue crews will be notified once a victim is located and they will have a pinpoint location to be dispatched to.
The student run CU Denver team will design, test, build, and raise funds for the completion of this project over the course of two semesters. Current budgetary projections predict a $13,200 cost for a functioning prototype scale model. All structural elements will be custom built, from the machining of the high-density foam molds for the composite lay-ups to the aluminum bracketry and test fixtures. Extensive research and testing on the optimal aerodynamic properties of the aircraft will be taken into account, as several iterations of the model have currently been explored. The propulsion, power, and railed launch system are all custom designed and analyzed to meet the requirements of flight. The controls system utilizes an open source, autopilot-capable, flight module called the Pixhawk that has integrated sensors for flight stability.
The Solution to Natural Disaster Surveillance