Ceiling Effects for Hybrid Aerial–Surface Locomotion of Small Rotorcraft

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

20 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2316-2327
Journal / PublicationIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number5
Online published23 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


As platform size is reduced, the flight of aerial robots becomes increasingly energetically expensive. Limitations on payload and endurance of these small robots have prompted researchers to explore the use of bimodal aerial-surface locomotion as a strategy to prolong operation time while retaining a high vantage point. In this work, we propose the use of “ceiling effects” as a power conserving strategy for small rotorcraft to perch on an overhang. In the vicinity of a ceiling, spinning propellers generate markedly higher thrust. To understand the observed aerodynamic phenomena, momentum theory and blade element method are employed to describe the thrust, power, and rotational rate of spinning propellers in terms of propeller-to-ceiling distance. The models, which take into account the influence of neighboring propellers as present in multirotor vehicles, are verified using two propeller types (23-mm and 50-mm radii) in various configurations on a benchtop setup. The results are consistent with the proposed models. In proximity to the ceiling, power consumption of propellers with 23-mm radius arranged in a quadrotor configuration was found to reduce by a factor of three. To this end, we present a conceptual prototype that demonstrates the use of ceiling effects for perching maneuvers. Overall, the promising outcomes highlight possible uses of ceiling effects for efficient bimodal locomotion in small multirotor vehicles.