Power management system design for solar-powered UAS
Fauci, Robert T., III
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Drone technology has catapulted to the forefront of military and private sector research. Of particular interest are unmanned aerial systems that are able to stay airborne for extended periods by absorbing energy from the environment. This requires extreme aerodynamic efficiency in order to minimize the power required to maintain flight, and a recognition that every sub-system in this system of systems must operate at optimal levels in order to achieve this nearly perpetual flight. A critical component of a drone is the electrical hardware that optimizes solar energy absorption and manages energy storage. In particular, weight-to-power consumption demands consideration as inefficiencies quickly equate to additional power requirements. While off-the-shelf components are available for many of the individual pieces, none of these parts is optimized with size and weight in mind. Therefore, the impetus of this thesis is to examine the power management system within a systems engineering framework. This study includes maximum power point tracking, battery management, energy storage and flux tracking by the batteries, propulsion, avionics and payload components. The results drove the design and development of a compact single circuit that optimally integrates these sub-systems into a lightweight module for particular mission sets.
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