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Rendering of a possible future eVTOL cyclocopter
Rendering of a possible future eVTOL cyclocopter provided by Adobe.

OSU assistant professor working to revolutionize eVTOL aircraft for military, commercial and local industry

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Media Contact: Desa James | Communications Coordinator | 405-744-2669 |

Dr. Atanu Halder, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has recently been funded by General Dynamics Land Systems for his research project titled “Aerodynamic and Aeroelastic Analysis of a Revolutionary Manned Cyclocopter. 

The objective of this project is to design a 2000 lbs. electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) capable manned aircraft propelled by distributed cycloidal rotors. 

The project is set to be approached through three different steps. To start, Halder and his team will develop an aircraft configuration that can efficiently utilize cycloidal rotors as a means of propulsion. Cycloidal rotors are a fluid propulsion system that uses blades to convert shaft power into fluid acceleration. They are used for propulsion, lift and control. 

Next, preliminary conceptual design of the vehicle will take place.

“In this step, mathematical and computational models of several key components of the aircraft along with cycloidal rotor will be developed,” Halder said.  

Dr. Atanu Halder assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Dr. Atanu Halder assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

“The resulting vehicle performance model along with existing aircraft sizing methodologies will be utilized to conduct preliminary performance evaluation (endurance, range, cruise speed, etc.) and sizing of the cycloidal rotors for efficient thrust production.” 

In the final step, a detailed design of the cycloidal rotors will be developed.  

Halder said the insights from this study will help design lightweight and stiff carbon fiber blades, which can efficiently produce thrust without undergoing large deflections. 

Existing eVTOL aircrafts have certain pain points that Halder’s project could potentially alleviate. Currently two different propulsion systems are used for vertical flight and cruise control. This affects the weight of the aircraft significantly. Additionally, low energy density of batteries in use reduce range and endurance of eVTOL aircrafts. 

With the novel propulsion system of cycloidal propellers instantaneous, full 360° thrust vectoring (i.e., direction of produced forces can be instantaneously changed to any direction perpendicular to its axis of rotation) can be provided. Allowing both vertical and propulsive forces to be produced with just one system. 

“Therefore, if we can leverage this technology properly, we can design/develop aircraft that can attain the same vertical flight capabilities of helicopters while maintaining cruise efficiency of a fixed-wing aircraft,” Halder said. 

By enhancing eVTOL aircrafts as well as unmanned aerial systems, this research could shape the future of aerial transportation, aerial package delivery and much more, Halder said.

While having potential impact for the military, commercial and local industries, this research is also benefiting Oklahoma State University students.  

Halder teaches courses in advanced dynamics, UAS propulsion and discusses the problems related to cycloidal rotors enhancing fundamental understanding with his students. The research that Halder is conducting sheds light on the complex aeromechanics and aeroelastic phenomena related to cycloidal rotor — preparing future engineers to conduct advanced research in this important field.  

Learn more about Dr. Halder’s research here. 

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