PhD Proposal by Jeremy Epps

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Jeremy Epps
(Advisor: Prof. Eric Feron]

will propose a doctoral thesis entitled,

An Analysis of Wake Interactions of a Novel Aerial Modular Robotic System


Thursday, August 6 at 10:00 a.m.


Modular robotic systems (MRS) provide a more flexible, agile alternative robotic platform than traditional monolithic robotic systems. Since their introduction in 1988, numerous ground-based MRS have been created, and their abilities have been tested and validated. Within the last decade, MRS has branched out to the aerospace sector. The purpose of the few aerial MRS that have been created in previous works is either for carrying heavy payloads or purely academic.  The proposed work introduces a novel aerial MRS, coined the Tetracopter, which was created to be a load-bearing structure. The goal of the Tetracopter's design is to give the vehicle the ability to withstand top-loaded payloads, form assemblies—which resemble Fractals—that maintain structural integrity in the case of motor failure, and lastly, to be as efficient in hover as a traditional multi-rotor vehicle. Unlike the current aerial MRS, the Tetracopter has non-coplanar rotors, and consequently, the self-similar assemblies of several Tetracopters have multiple layers of rotors. Although positioning the rotors in this manner may allow the vehicle to accomplish the aforementioned goals, it also creates the possibility of reduced efficiency due to the wake interactions between non-coplanar rotors.

The purpose of the proposed research is to determine the optimal design of the Tetracopter as well as the self-similar assemblies of the Tetracopter, which are referred to as Tetrahedron Fractal Assemblies (FTA). Three factors are considered to determine both the Tetracopter and the FTA’s optimal design: efficiency, mass, and rigidity. The weight of the vehicle is quantified as a factor of the distance between the rotors, while an assumption about the rigidity of the vehicle’s airframe is used to constrain the design space of the airframe and the configuration space of the rotors. A combination of thrust stand experiments, Computational Fluid Dynamic analysis and flow visualizations using High-Speed Stereo Particle Image Velocimetry are proposed to understand how the wake interactions impact the performance of the Tetracopter and the FTA.


  • Prof. Eric Feron – School of Aerospace Engineering (advisor)
  • Prof. Marilyn Smith– School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Jonathan Rogers– School of Aerospace Engineering
  • Prof. Javier Irizzary – School of Building Construction


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Tatianna Richardson
  • Created:07/28/2020
  • Modified By:Tatianna Richardson
  • Modified:07/28/2020