The growth of the Unmanned Aerial and Underwater Vehicle (UAUV) industry is outpacing our understanding of how UAUVs behave in near boundary environments. Search and rescue UAUV applications occur in tight, confined spaces filled with complex obstacles and boundaries. Water sampling UAUV applications occur over wide-open water bodies that involve amphibious operations such as breaching the water’s surface. Near-boundary flight provides aerodynamic benefits, such as the “ground effect,” seen in animals and helicopters. However, near-boundary flight advantages are hard to harness because boundary effects can also be destabilizing. They perturb lift (near ground-air or water-air boundaries) and introduce a chaotic amphibious transition region (near water-air boundaries). We studied the aerodynamics and performance of rotor blades spinning near boundaries to explore these near-boundary effects. The flow structures we discovered shed light on the benefits of near-boundary flight and offer design strategies for UAUVs that can fly stably through air-water transition regions.
Darius Carter hails from Richmond, Virginia, and is currently a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology. He has a Ph.D. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA). He graduated from Highland Springs High school in Henrico County, Virginia in 2013. He then enrolled at UVA, where he graduated with his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Material Science in 2017. As a Ph.D. student, his research focuses on unmanned aerial vehicles and their safety when flying near boundaries. With his Postdoc he will be focusing on aerodynamic coupling between propellers and airfoils. He was the Co-President of Black Graduate and Professional Student Organization, Recruitment Chair for the Mechanical & Aerospace Graduate Student Board, Co-Chair for UVA’s Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team, Member of the search committee for the Dean of Engineering, and Academic Mentor with UVA Athletics. Outside of school and research, he is a dedicated member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the National Society of Black Engineers. He enjoys hanging out with friends, adventuring, traveling, and watching and playing sports, especially basketball. He desires to inspire the next generation of black engineering students.