Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Eric Mehiel


A method for sizing remotely powered unmanned aerial vehicles is presented to augment the conventional design process. This method allows for unconventionally powered aircraft to become options in trade studies during the initial design phase. A design matrix is created that shows where, and if, a remotely powered vehicle fits within the design space. For given range and power requirements, the design matrix uses historical data to determine whether an internal combustion or electrical system would be most appropriate. Trends in the historical data show that the break in the design space between the two systems is around 30 miles and 1 kW. Electrical systems are broken into subcategories of onboard energy sources and remote power sources. For this work, only batteries were considered as an onboard energy source, but both lasers and microwaves were considered for remote power transmission methods. The conventional sizing method is adjusted to so that it is based on energy consumption, instead of fuel consumption. Using the manner in which microwaves and laser propagate through the atmosphere, the weight fraction of a receiving apparatus is estimated. This is then used with the sizing method to determine the gross takeoff weight of the vehicle. This new sizing method is used to compare battery systems, microwave systems, and laser systems.