Cosworth has used its advanced propulsion system modelling and simulation techniques to evaluate the benefits of hybrid system technologies and assess the challenges of fitting such systems to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The study for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) looked at gasoline and heavy fuel engines fitted to generic medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) platforms, and considered the utility of adding combinations of energy recovery, energy storage and electric drive technologies.
As platforms continue to become increasingly multi-role, the need for more on-board electrical power increases. The use of hybrid propulsion and power generation technologies will add significant new payload opportunities to platforms, but come at a cost of adding increased mass to the overall platform. The mission trade spaces as well as the technological issues need to be considered.
The Cosworth study concluded that those hybrid technologies investigated do not currently contribute to range extension of UAV platforms. However, they do enable other operational benefits such as reducing the platforms acoustic signature, or providing an alternative propulsion system for safety critical redundancy.
Cosworth UAV Programme Manager, Ian Williams-Wynn:
“The work has allowed us and our UK MOD colleagues to begin to understand the benefits of hybrid technologies for UAVs in a systematic way and provides a toolset for on-going simulation and analysis.”
The knowledge gained as a result of the study supports Cosworth’s continuing development of UAV propulsion systems and power management technology.