UAV Catapult

College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Mechanical Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Mechanical Engineering



Primary Advisor

Sarah Harding


This document outlines the Senior Design Project proposed by Dr. Aaron Drake that was assigned to a team of Mechanical Engineering students at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The purpose of this project was to design, build, test, and finalize a launching system for two small, fixed wing, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) owned by Dr. Drake and Cal Poly. The goal was to create a system that was both portable and reliable to use, only requiring a two-person team to use effectively in the field. The most important design requirements were determined to be the launch speed, assembly time, and storage size. Multiple propulsion methods were explored, with a pneumatic piston cylinder chosen for the preliminary design. A side clamping carriage design was selected due to the shape of the UAVs being launched. A structural prototype of the UAV carriage was constructed, and the final design was developed as a result of data obtained from the prototype. Following the creation of our final design, a manufacturing plan and design verification plan were produced to bring the concept to fruition. With these plans in place, parts were ordered, and construction began. This document will describe the background research done, the objectives of the project, the preliminary and final design, the manufacturing and testing process, difficulties and obstacles faced, our final results, and what can be improved upon in the future.