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System-level performance investigation of eVTOL concepts using large-scale DEP-focused design optimizations


Urban air mobility is a new form of aviation that holds potential to transform commuting options in congested cities.

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) concepts are well-suited as design choices for this field considering noise, space, and environmental benefits. This thesis demonstrates the development and application of two large-scale multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) formulations for system-level performance investigation of eVTOL concepts using distributed electric propulsion (DEP). DEP benefits are explored through a layout MDO formulation that focuses on rotor placement and positioning, while a refined MDO formulation utilizes a 3-D geometry for physics-based modeling to incorporate propeller-wing interactions. Using Uber's eCRM-002 as a baseline design, the configuration and modifications are optimized at multiple operating conditions simultaneously, where the sizing depends largely on motor-inoperative failure cases implemented. Initial testing shows a decrease in performance when increasing rotor number; however, changing one set of rotors to be capable of tilting for both cruise and hover thrust capabilities shows potential to increase performance depending on the tilt rotor's position. Large-scale design optimization shows promise through these methods as a tool for investigating the designs of eVTOL concepts.

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