Unsettled Topics in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Icing
Report / Survey by SAE International, 04/27/2020
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an emerging technology with a large variety of commercial and military applications. In-flight icing occurs during flight in supercooled clouds or freezing precipitation and is a potential hazard to all aircraft. In-flight icing on UAVs imposes a major limitation on the operational envelope. This report describes the unsettled topics related to UAV icing. First, typical UAV applications and the general hazards of icing are described. Second, an overview of the special technical characteristics of icing on autonomous and unmanned aircraft is given. Third, the operational challenges for flight in icing conditions are discussed. Fourth, technologies for ice protection that mitigate the icing hazard are introduced. Fifth, the tools and methods required to understand UAV icing and to develop aircraft with cold-weather capabilities are presented. Finally, an assessment of the current and future regulations regarding icing on UAVs is provided.
Icing is a key challenge that the UAV industry needs to address in order to unlock the full potential of this emerging technology. UAVs must be capable of safe and reliable operation in a wide range of weather conditions. This report outlines the most important challenges and gives short- and long-term recommendations on how to solve UAV icing issues.
NOTE: SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are intended to identify and illuminate key issues in emerging, but still unsettled, technologies of interest to the mobility industry. The goal of SAE EDGE™ Research Reports is to stimulate discussion and work in the hope of promoting and speeding resolution of identified issues. SAE EDGE™ Research Reports are not intended to resolve the challenges they identify or close any topic to further scrutiny.
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