US military drones will increase the power of equipped with new batteries by 90%

In February 2017, the US Air Force Laboratory (AFRL) released a new, secure, structurally integrated battery information request (RFI) to develop a new battery for small drones to achieve a battery-body structure for small drones. Integrated design, while the endurance capacity increased by 50%.

The functional structure of the new battery is integrated, so that the small UAV frame and wing can be replaced by a new type of battery that is safe and structurally integrated, which can reduce the quality of the UAV, and have a long battery life and energy utilization. improve. For example, the integration of the battery wing requires the wing to serve as a drone battery while meeting the flight strength and aerodynamic requirements.

The new battery faces three challenges: 1 durability, the lowest degradation of electrochemical performance under mechanical strain; 2 safety, to ensure safety, the battery structure needs to have reliable mechanical robustness; 3 elastic combination and integration with SUAS , including wire electrode curing of SUAS surface, battery assembly and packaging. SUAS needs to be lightweight and designed with higher strength materials for easy assembly and disassembly.

Highest goal: 1 Increase the endurance of Group 1 SUAS by developing a thin film, rechargeable, high energy storage battery (>300 Wh/kg), for example, the RQ-20A "Puma" has a 50% increase in endurance; 2 Highly integrated, through the structural cover or structural replacement, to achieve the integrated design of high-energy storage battery and wing; 3 new battery needs to meet the mechanical strength requirements of Group 1 SUAS flight.

AFRL seeks information from industry, academia, think tanks, etc. to help future investments in this area. Respondents are welcome to answer the following questions:

● What performance does the multi-function battery need to weigh?

● What performance does the multi-function integrated battery need to weigh?

● What is the mechanical limit of the new battery in different parts of the small drone?

• Is there a mechanical load model for a completed small drone/aircraft battery or associated power source?

● What can be used for new types of batteries in the previous work on solar wings?

● What are the environmental impacts of the new battery?

● Which existing small drone materials can be combined with a safety battery?

● The expected weight and volume of the functional structure integrated battery?

● Can non-defense areas (marine, automotive, wind) have processing methods to support this concept? If so, do you know the impact on the weight and cost of using this process on an aircraft?

• How to adjust traditional aerospace processing methods for this new design and maintenance environment?

• Is there a ready-made cost model to accurately account for the impact of new processing and assembly processes on system cost? If not, how do you study such cost tools?

• Is there any way to weigh the reliability, safety, and cost of the system? If not, what research can achieve these trade-offs?

● How many endurance times can a small drone using a functionally integrated battery, such as the RQ-20A Cougar, be expected to increase?

● How to conduct current collector and battery management/monitoring?


AFRL has been committed to the development of the integration of small drone functional structures. In 2012, AFRL installed solar cells on the upper wing surface of the Raven drone, increasing its power by 90% and its flight life by 60%. In 2016, AFRL used 50 spray antennas for the “Tiger Shark” drone to integrate it with the fuselage. In addition, AFRL has developed an artificial hair sensor using carbon nanotubes, which can be embedded in the outer casing of the drone, allowing the drone to feel the surrounding airflow – providing a so-called “flight by feeling” Ability.

The functional structure integrated design can solve the practical problems of short airborne unmanned platform with short battery life, short range and insufficient payload loading capacity. From the structural design level of the platform, it can meet the development of drone “bee colony” combat for small drones. The demand for the formation of the "bee colony" combat capability. In 2016, DARPA released the "Universal RF Technology" (CONCERTO) project for small drones, which aims to integrate subsystem functions to reduce cost, quality, size, power consumption and increase space utilization. In the future, the functional structure integration design is an important direction for the development of small drones, which deserves further attention.

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