VITO – Ducted fan drone

Shir Kozlovsky (head of project), Tal Goldberg, Roni Yonash, Dor Gonda, Yuval Geyari, Eden Shazar, Niv Zuckerman
Dr. Isaac Kadushin
project image

As part of the final project, conducted by undergraduate students at the Technion’s Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, the design of a drone was carried out to fit the demands and specifications of The Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure. The chosen configuration is a ducted fan – a single rotor within a rigid duct. A demonstration, scaled-down vehicle was designed, manufactured and controlled, and a series of experiments and test flights carried out, terminating in a secured, free flight.

The main objective for the full-scale vehicle consists of the following:

  • Vertical takeoff and landing.
  • Planned course: vertical ascent to an altitude of , horizontal cruise at to a distance of , vertical descent to near ground height, one hour of hovering and return via the same route.
  • The mission is approximately hours long in total.
  • The vehicle must withstand winds of up to .
  • The vehicle must withstand atmospheric conditions.

The project was carried out by three student teams over three years, during which a 60% scale demonstration vehicle was designed, manufactured and flown. Its goal was to serve as a proof of concept for the chosen configuration to perform the given mission.

The configuration is that of a single rotor enclosed in a housing, known as a ducted fan. It was chosen for being compact, safe for operation, able to cruise at the low required speed, and compared to a more common configuration, acoustically stealthier.

The demonstration vehicle made use of a DC engine for simplification of operation, replacing the full-scale vehicle’s internal combustion (specifically, Wankel) engine.

During the project, a series of hardware experiments was conducted to build a dynamic model and simulate the system for preliminary control design, and limited flight tests in which degrees of freedom were gradually released. The experiments culminated in a secured, free flight, in which the vehicle demonstrated the following, mission-critical capabilities:

  • Vertical takeoff and landing.
  • Horizontal maneuvering.
  • Stability when exposed to side winds.
: VITO performing a secure free flight

VITO performing a secure free flight

VITO – Ducted fan drone