Parametric Optimization of a Cyclogiro Aircraft Design for Efficient Hover with Aeroelastic Considerations

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Institute of Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics, Universität Stuttgart, 70569, Germany

2 Department of Aerospace Science and Technology, Politecnico di Milano, 20156, Italy

3 Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol, BS8 1TR, United Kingdom


A minimization procedure is proposed to orient the design of a vertical take-off and landing drone towards sustainability. The vehicle is a novel cycloidal rotor drone and the principal objective is to yield the best ratio of payload to power consumption. The drone blades, rotor arms, and frame are designed for fused deposition modeling additive manufacturing with polylactic acid. 10 variables for the geometry, operation parameters, and material infill percentages are explored in search of the optimum design. A special derivation procedure allows obtaining the symbolic equations for the weight and power consumption of the drone. This permits optimization with a hybrid genetic and gradient method and exploring a broad range of aircraft sizes. 7 constraint equations ensure that the necessary assumptions made for the derivation remain valid and that the structural strength is adequate. For each new configuration, this method allows to quickly find a new optimum design using a desktop computer. Also, modifying the constraints, variables, or objective function is straightforward. Finally, the resulting design has a power loading of 0.0876 N/W.


Main Subjects

[1] McNabb, M.L., Development of a Cycloidal Propulsion Computer Model and Comparison with Experiment, Master’s thesis, Mississippi State University, 2001.
[2] Xisto, C.M., Páscoa, J.C., Leger, J.A., Masarati, P., Quaranta, G., Morandini, M., Gagnon, L., Wills, D., Schwaiger, M., Numerical modelling of geometrical effects in the performance of a cycloidal rotor, 6th European Conference on Computational Fluid Dynamics, Barcelona, Spain.
[3] Leger, J.A., Páscoa, J.C., Xisto, C.M., Aerodynamic optimization of cyclorotors, J. of Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, 2016.
[4] Benedict, M., Ramasamy, M., Chopra, I., Leishman, J.G., Experiments on the Optimization of MAV-Scale Cycloidal Rotor Characteristics Towards Improving Their Aerodynamic Performance, American Helicopter SocietyInternational Specialist Meeting on Unmanned Rotorcraft, Phoenix, Arizona.
[5] Benedict, M., Ramasamy, M., Chopra, I., Leishman, J.G., Performance of a Cycloidal Rotor Concept for Micro Air Vehicle Applications, Journal of the American Helicopter Society, 2010, 55(2), 022002–1–14, doi:10.4050/JAHS.55.022002.
[6] Benedict, M., Mattaboni, M., Chopra, I., Masarati, P., Aeroelastic Analysis of a Micro-Air-Vehicle-Scale Cycloidal Rotor, AIAA Journal, 2011, 49(11), 2430–2443, doi:10.2514/1.J050756.
[7] Lind, A.H., Jarugumilli, T., Benedict, M., Lakshminarayan, V.K., Jones, A.R., Chopra, I., Flow field studies on a micro-air-vehicle-scale cycloidal rotor in forward flight, Experiments in Fluids, 2014, 55(12), 1826.
[8] Runco, C.C., Benedict, M., Development and flight testing of a meso-scale cyclopter, 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
[9] Lee, C.H., Yong Min, S., Lee, J.E., Kim, S.J., Design, analysis, and experimental investigation of a cyclocopter with two rotors, Journal of Aircraft, 2016.
[10] Andrews, G., Shrestha, E., Chopra, I., Design and fabrication of a meso-scale aircraft using a cycloidal rotor propulsion system, 54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2016.
[11] Hu, Y., Zhang, H., Wang, G., Two dimensional and three dimensional numerical simulation of cycloidal propellers in hovering status, 54th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, 2016.
[12] Hu, Y., Du, F., Zhang, H.L., Investigation of unsteady aerodynamics effects in cycloidal rotor using RANS solver, The Aeronautical Journal, 2016, 120(1228), 956–970.
[13] Schwaiger, M., Wills, D., D-dalus vtol – efficiency increase in forward flight, Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, 2016, 88(5), 594–604.
[14] Xisto, C.M., Leger, J.A., Páscoa, J.C., Gagnon, L., Masarati, P., Angeli, D., Dumas, A., Parametric analysis of a large-scale cycloidal rotor in hovering conditions, Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Issue: object: doi:10.1061/as.2017.30.issue-1, revision: rev:148308606033490:doi:10.1061/as.2017.30.issue-1, 30(1).
[15] Gagnon, L., Morandini, M., Quaranta, G., Muscarello, V., Masarati, P., Aerodynamic models for cycloidal rotor analysis, AEAT, 2016, 88(2), 215–231, doi:10.1108/AEAT-02-2015-0047.
[16] Gagnon, L., Morandini, M., Quaranta, G., Masarati, P., Xisto, C.M., Páscoa, J.C., Aeroelastic analysis of a cycloidal rotor under various operating conditions, Journal of Aircraft, 2018, 55(4), 1675–1688.
[17] Yun, C.Y., Park, I.K., Lee, H.Y., Jung, J.S., H., I.S., Design of a New Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Cyclocopter, Journal of the American Helicopter Society, 2007, 52(1).
[18] Johnson, W., Helicopter Theory, Dover Publications, New York, 1994.
[19] Jain, P., Abhishek, A., Modeling and simulation of virtual camber in cycloidal rotors, AIAA Journal, 2017, 55(4), 1465–1468.
[20] What is the influence of infill %, layer height and infill pattern on my 3d prints?,, last Accessed: 02/02/2017.
[21] Young, W., Budynas, R., Sadegh, A., Roark’s Formulas for Stress and Strain, McGraw Hill, 2011.
[22] Gagnon, L., Quaranta, G., Schwaiger, M., Wills, D., Aerodynamic analysis of an unmanned cyclogiro aircraft, SAE Technical Paper, SAE International.
[23] Hu, Y., Fu, X., Zhang, H., Wang, G., Farhat, H., Effects of blade aspect ratio and taper ratio on hovering performance of cycloidal rotor with large blade pitching amplitude, Chinese Journal of Aeronautics, 2019, 32(5), 1121–1135.
[24] Stein, W., et al., Sage Mathematics Software (Version 9.2), The Sage Development Team, 2020,
[25] Brian M. Adams and William J. Bohnhoff and Keith R. Dalbey and Mohamed S. Ebeida and John P. Eddy and Michael S. Eldred and Russell W. Hooper and Patricia D. Hough and Kenneth T. Hu and John D. Jakeman and Mohammad Khalil and Kathryn A. Maupin and Jason A. Monschke and Elliott M. Ridgway and Ahmad A. Rushdi and D. Thomas Seidl and J. Adam Stephens and Laura P. Swiler and and Justin G. Winokur, Dakota, a multilevel parallel object-oriented framework for design optimization, parameter estimation, uncertainty quantification, and sensitivity analysis: Version 6.13 user’s manual, Tech. rep., Sandia Technical Report SAND2020-12495, 2020.
[26] Vanderplaats, G.N., CONMIN - a FORTRAN program for constrained function minimization, Tech. rep., NASA Technical Report TM X-62282, 1973.
[27] Mayo, D.B., Leishman, J.G., Comparison of the hovering efficiency of rotating wing and flapping wing micro air vehicles, Journal of the American Helicopter Society, 2010, 55(2), 25001–250015.
[28] Robertson, C.D., Reichert, T.M., Design and development of the atlas human-powered helicopter, AIAA Journal, 2015, 53(1), 20–32.
[29] Benedict, M., Jarugumilli, T., Chopra, I., Effect of Rotor Geometry and Blade Kinematics on Cycloidal Rotor Hover Performance, Journal of Aircraft, 2013, 50(5), 1340–1352, doi:10.2514/1.C031461.
[30] Shahmiri, F., Twin-rotor hover performance examination using overlap tests, Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, 2017, 89(1), 155–163.
[31] Shrestha, E., Yeo, D., Benedict, M., Chopra, I., Development of a meso-scale cycloidal-rotor aircraft for micro air vehicle application, International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles, 2017, 175682931770204.
[32] Nangia, R.K., Efficiency parameters for modern commercial aircraft, The Aeronautical Journal, 2006, 110(1110), 495–510.
[33] Roskam, J., Airplane Design, no. pt. 5 in Airplane Design, DARcorporation, 1999.