From the Test Benches to the First Prototype of the muFly Micro Helicopter

  • Dario Schafroth
  • Samir Bouabdallah
  • Christian Bermes
  • Roland Siegwart


The goal of the European project muFly is to build a fully autonomous micro helicopter, which is comparable to a small bird in size and mass. The rigorous size and mass constraints infer various problems related to energy efficiency, flight stability and overall system design. In this research, aerodynamics and flight dynamics are investigated experimentally to gather information for the design of the helicopter’s propulsion group and steering system. Several test benches are designed and built for these investigations. A coaxial rotor test bench is used to measure the thrust and drag torque of different rotor blade designs. The effects of cyclic pitching of the swash plate and the passive stabilizer bar are studied on a test bench measuring rotor forces and moments with a 6–axis force sensor. The gathered knowledge is used to design a first prototype of the muFly helicopter. The prototype is described in terms of rotor configuration, structure, actuator and sensor selection according to the project demands, and a first version of the helicopter is shown. As a safety measure for the flight tests and to analyze the helicopter dynamics, a 6DoF vehicle test bench for tethered helicopter flight is used.


MAV Test bench Coaxial Aerodynamics Stability Design Flight test 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dario Schafroth
    • 1
  • Samir Bouabdallah
    • 1
  • Christian Bermes
    • 1
  • Roland Siegwart
    • 1
  1. 1.Autonomous System LabSwiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ)ZurichSwitzerland

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