COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State University’s Aerospace Research Center recently set a world speed record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of any size, pending verification.
Ohio State’s drone flew autonomously with sustained average speeds of 147 mph over an out-and-back course approximately 28 miles long, which also set a record for the longest UAV flight over an out-and-back course.
The record flight occurred Aug. 30, 2017, from Kelleys Island Airport on Kelleys Island, Ohio, with the course extending to the east over Lake Erie.
The Ohio State team of engineers overcame technical challenges, such as fuel limits for the 17-minute flight, radio range for maintaining positive vehicle control, and collision avoidance.
The 70-pound autonomous jet aircraft opens up new capabilities for applications such as rapid package delivery or search-and-rescue, where both high speed and long range are mission critical, university officials note.
The Ohio State-designed jet UAV is equipped to handle this mission, with custom-built flight controller, long-range fuel tanks, redundant radio control links, control via satellite communications link, and ADS-B in/out transponder technology for avoiding collisions with other aircraft.
Led by Engineering Professor Jim Gregory and Research Scientist Matt McCrink, the university’s team collaborated with Ligado for the satellite communications and with uAvionix for the ADS-B transponder.
“Setting a world speed record is a fantastic way to push technology forward,” Gregory said following the flight. “Aviation records have a rich legacy going all the way back to the Wright brothers, and we’re building on that tradition. We’re hoping to spearhead a competitive technology push for higher speed, longer range, and enhanced safety for UAVs.”
The official record is pending review and certification by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). An official observer representing the NAA was present for takeoff and landing.