Prof. Feron: Modular drones: Where geometry meets Flight

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in-person: B19, Hall 1; virtual participation: Zoom

Modular drones: Where geometry meets Flight

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Small rotary-wing drones are well-known not to be as energy-efficient as large drones. However, small drones feature attractive characteristics, such as improved robustness against collisions and crashes, easier acceptance by Air Traffic Service Providers, and simpler manufacturing and handling. Large drones feature complementary qualities, first and foremost the ability to carry large loads. When endowed with the ability to hover, large drones can actively participate not only to the transportation of payloads, but also to the manufacturing tasks involving the payload.

The concept of modular drone will be discussed as a possible approach to merge the advantages of large and small machines, by fabricating a drone made of the assembly of several "drone modules". Building upon prior work, new modular drone architectures will be discussed, with an emphasis on their geometrical features. A fractal drone geometry inspired by Alexander Graham Bell's famous kites will be presented first, followed by the various drone geometries afforded by dodecahedral drone modules. The mechanical and aerodynamic properties of drones thus designed will be discussed.


Eric Feron is a professor of aerospace software engineering who recently joined the KAUST CEMSE Division from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to his time at Georgia Tech, he was an active faculty member in MIT's Aeronautics and Astronautics department from 1993 until 2005. Feron’s career in academia began in Paris, France, where he obtained his B.S. and M.S. from École Polytechnique and École Normale Superieure, respectively. He later completed his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at Stanford University, U.S. Feron's interests are with using decision theory and computer science to address and solve engineering problems in Aerospace and related Engineering topics. Eric Feron likes to report his work in books and papers with the help of his many current and former Ph.D. students. A native of Paris, France, where he grew up, Feron is a private aircraft pilot and licensed boat operator.

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