Traditional unmanned aerial vehicles such as remote-controlled helicopters, multi-rotors, and quadcopters are "under actuated" systems in that they possess fewer control inputs than available degrees of freedom. Under-actuation limits the flying ability of such vehicles by limiting the range of attainable maneuvers and precludes the possibility of achieving and maintaining any arbitrary orientation. To allow for full orientation control, it is necessary to develop an alternative mechanical and actuation method to fully control an unmanned aerial vehicle with six or more degrees of freedom.
In this project, we introduce a flying vehicle that overcomes the inherent maneuverability limitations of traditional multirotors. Full directional authority is enabled on each individual thrust vector by introducing two additional degrees of freedom (twist and tilt) to each rotor. The resulting system possesses omnidirectional thrust-vectoring capabilities, fully decouples the position and attitude dynamics, and minimizes wasted thrust over its entire configuration space. The device is capable of achieving any arbitrary body orientation, thereby allowing the device to angle itself with respect to a work surface for the purpose of physical interaction. Potential applications include performing tooling operations in out-of-reach places such as cellphone towers, skyscrapers, wind turbines, elevator shafts, and the fuselages of aircraft bodies during construction.