Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) provide the ability to perform a variety of experimental tests of systems and unproven research technologies, including new autopilot systems and obstacle avoidance capabilities, without risking the lives of human pilots. This paper describes the activities of design, optimization, and flight operations of a UAV conceived at Clarkson University (USA) and equipped to perform wind speed measurements to support wind farmsite planning. The UAV design has been assisted and validated by the use of an automatic virtual environment for the assisted design of civil UAVs. This tool can be used as a “computing machine” for civil UAVs. The operator inputs the mission profile and other generic parameters and data about performance, aerodynamics, and weight breakdown are extracted. A mathematical model of the UAV for flight simulation and its dynamic computations, along with automatic drawing is also produced. Also an optimizer based on genetic algorithms has been added to the tools, so that the UAV design can be iteratively improved in order to most effectively perform the mission selected.
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