Support Embry-Riddle Capstone Team MALLARD

84% of $14,000 goal
This campaign ended on April 08, 2024, but you can still make a gift to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University by clicking here!

Air-Launched Effects (ALEs), small drones that can be launched from full-size airplanes, have exploded in popularity over the last decade. ALEs can do challenging missions, like battlefield surveillance and hurricane monitoring, that are too dangerous for their manned “parent” airplanes to undertake. Today, most ALEs are discarded at the end of a mission, harming the environment, wasting valuable airframes, and making them too costly for promising applications like search and rescue.

Miniature Air Launch, Loiter, and Recovery Demonstration (MALLARD) is building a system to re-dock an ALE to its parent aircraft in mid-air, dramatically reducing the cost per mission. The project will develop an ALE, a launch and docking mechanism, and advanced guidance and navigation systems to enable repeatable in-flight recovery. EagleLifter, a special-purpose air-launch test drone, will serve as the parent aircraft. MALLARD aims to demonstrate a launch and recovery in flight testing by November 2024.

MALLARD’s success would make it among the first teams to ever automatically recover a small drone with another small drone in midair, and pave the way for further adoption of ALE technology.

All ducks come with bills! Our airplanes are flying robots packed with powerful computers, sensors, and electric fans far beyond what’s found in normal drones. To keep up with our flight testing, we need to build two planes and stock spare parts, like backup parachutes and extra battery packs. Our launch and recovery system will be no less demanding, with lightweight materials Funds go directly to parts purchases for the aircraft and the launch/recovery system. The multidisciplinary team consists of 12 aerospace, software, and mechanical engineering students with competitive UAV design/build experience.

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