BAE Systems and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have recently formed a partnership to invest in strategic research in aerospace and defence. The framework which has been developed as part of this new alliance places a strong emphasis on collaboration. This contrasts with the conventional approach to industry led research which is normally based on the establishment of ‘centres of excellence’ in specific subject areas. By using a collaborative approach, the funding partners aim to benefit from inter-disciplinary collaboration which will take place during the project, giving rise to a more effective use of the invested funds.
The objective of the research programme is to develop technologies which would support the design of low cost (both to acquire and operate) flapless unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This work includes fundamental aerodynamic research to provide control forces without the use of conventional flaps, coupled with developments in the areas of control systems, manufacturing engineering, structural engineering, the electromagnetic behaviour of these structures and design optimisation. The output from the research has been extended to include the design, manufacture, assembly and flight of a demonstrator vehicle, which will provide the research teams with a platform on which to evaluate the performance of their technology in a realistic flight environment. A total of fourteen research groups at ten universities are involved in the five year programme, which has a total value of £6·5M (€9·75M).