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Unmanned Aerial Systems Team seize sixth place

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Success for our BrUAS student-led team at the IMechE UAS Challenge 2020

Congratulations to our newly-formed Unmanned Aerial Systems student-led team, BrUAS, who have come in joint sixth place in the IMechE‘s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Challenge 2020 – the annual industry-recognized competition to promote engineering and the professional development of engineering students.

​Led by a core team of nine Master's students and five Undergraduate students, the team beat fierce competition from 30 international University teams and won the 2020 Safety and Airworthiness Award.

They all worked hard to meet the challenge to design, fabricate, test, and demonstrate a novel unmanned aerial system (UAS) conforming to strict regulations and national airworthiness requirements (CAP 722). As well as focusing on developing an aircraft for this academic competition, the team also needed to demonstrate its commercial viability for humanitarian aid missions. BrUAS took part in the virtual element of the UAS Challenge, given a lack of display event this year. The team hope to build upon the success of this year and present their final aircraft in the 2021 competition.

The IMechE reported that the team: “top-scored on both the PDR and CDR and showed a strong and consistent approach to safety and its incorporation in the design of their UAS to ensure airworthiness and safe operation throughout."

Chief Scrutineer Rod Williams explained: "Key to their CDR submission was a good risk matrix, which contained the key hazards and indicated their levels of risk." Rod continued: "This was clearly set out using a colour-coded chart of likelihood versus severity, including risks to health and safety during manufacture, technical airworthiness and air safety in flight. An excellent overall approach to safety followed from the matrix, thus allowing them to identify and mitigate technical risks in all phases, both of design and operation."

The BrUAS Team teamed with SimScale professional engineering simulation software, to incorporate computer-aided engineering (CAE) within the early design phases. SimScale permitted a rapid, low-cost assessment of conceptual designs while facilitating optimization tasks through the removal of time-consuming model manufacturing processes. The online platform allowed ongoing development of the aircraft from remote locations, with results effectively shared digitally.

SimScale's Jousef Murad said: “Without access to SimScale, the team would have lost approximately four weeks of development, at a critical project phase, as alternative arrangements and remote access to various hardware and facilities were arranged." The team ran approximately 300 simulations at 2-3 hours each, and the technology proved to be invaluable for the team, allowing continued and uninterrupted work on the project throughout the early stages of the current pandemic.

Tom Hulatt, BrUAS Team leader, commented: “SimScale presented a challenging and exciting platform to learn and apply for the development of our unmanned aerial system. The team at SimScale and the community forum were extremely friendly and supportive and always keen to assist where possible to not only ensure the success of the project but further develop the team's understanding of CAE. We have really enjoyed the opportunity to engage with them."

BrUAS recently formed as a University society to home the keen membership of multidisciplinary students – to promote and engage interest and understanding of unmanned aerial systems.