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Aerospace Any universities do this type of research?

  1. Aug 17, 2010 #1

    I'm a former grad student with a Master's in Mechanical Engineering (emphasis on Dynamics and Controls) and I'm thinking of going back to school for a Ph. D. I'm very interested in technologies involving the use of endurance UAV's (UAV's designed to stay in the air for weeks at a time) with the ultimate goal of being a cheap alternative to communications satellites. I am also interested in all things autogyro/gyroplane/gyrocopter but it seems no one cares about that technology lol.

    Would anyone happen to know professors or universities that do research related to either of these things?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2010 #2
    Given our current technologies with respect to UAVs, they would certainly be a more cost-effective alternative to the communications satellites of the 1970s!

    However, today's communication satellites have massively greater bandwidths and orbital longevity.

    Still, what most people don't realize is that communications satellites no longer carry phone and Internet signals around the world, at least not much. The vast majority is carried by fiber optic, not only throughout most countries, but also between nearly all countries, including numerous undersea trunklines between major countries like the US, UK, S. Korea, Japan, Australia, India, and the many others who're thoroughly connected these days.

    As for the rest, a lot of communication runs are still made via microwave relay towers, which form the backbone of cellular phone communications in developing countries.

    So! Where does that leave us with respect to communications satellites? Well, aside from satellite TV, which is still huge due to the subscriber area, even in rural areas (I think half the folks in my apartment complex have dish, as it's simply either better, cheaper, or both, despite the fact we're wired for cable six ways to Sunday), I think a lot of satellite communications is going by the wayside. Of course there's XM, but HD radio is growing rapidly, and free (aside from the commercials). XD never positioned itself as an economical replacement.

    You know what, rm446, if someone develops, not drones, but simple hydrogen balloons, somewhat steerable and primarily by means of stratospheric currents, I might see them, possibly, as an economically viable alternative to comm satellites or the other alternatives, which everyone and their brother seem to be embracing these days.

    Let's face it - we love free. If a radio station wants to throw in a few commercials to pay for HD radio, most of us will settle for that over paying $30 or more a month for "perfect" satellite stereo (XM) radio.

    As for me, I'm mostly here at my desk, not driving around, so I get full 1080p (full HD) for many things I enjoy seeing, and via numerous means, mostly through the Internet, and often (usually) for much less than what my parents pay for cable. As for my favorite TV shows, they just don't require HD! Yes, sometimes I must wait for a download, but these days for a couple hour movie, it takes just a few minutes.

    I think the cable companies are missing MASSIVE beats by not simply opening the floodgates to digital content viewable on demand on one's computer.

    The wave of the future isn't in space, or even on UAVs. It's on the hardline, in fiber optic to one's door (eventually, though cable to my door has proven ridiculously fast).
  4. Sep 6, 2010 #3
    Endurance UAV seems to have very long wings, concentrated masses... This configuration could lead to interesting aeroelastic problems.
  5. Sep 7, 2010 #4
    Yes they do! And as you can see in the second photo, they're much larger than most people picture them being when they see photos without any visual reference. The Global Hawk ranges from abou 8,500 lbs empty to nearly 23,000 lbs full of fuel.

    That's a little larger than your average Cessna...

    Given the fact that it's made from advanced materials which give it flight performance capability far exceeding that of expected conditions and that its cruise is well into the calm, non-turbulent stratosphere, and that it's flight dynamic model and computers react far more rapidly than any turbulence, aeroelastic problems aren't an issue for this bird.
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