Engineering Design Optimization of Small Drone Landing Gear

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Jesse Sestito




Mechanical Engineering

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


Small drones have experienced intensifying competition over their design and increasing diversification of their uses. Drones have become increasingly applicable to military use, and are now subject to regulatory schemes that allow corporations to make use of their cost-effective aerial photography capabilities. This competition brings opportunities for designing more effective components - broadly understood as lighter components that bear greater, or the same, loads as their predecessors - especially for components like landing gear, which must bear the weight of the drones, as well as impetus forces related to any small falls they might experience. The components must also be cheap, as high attrition is a feature of these small, replaceable drones. Therefore, techniques that improve the amount of iteration available to designers are highly desirable. Mathematical optimization allows the relatively easy optimization of parts by allowing a computer to design large numbers of iterations and redesign them for improved performance. In this work, we explore the design of drone landing gear and develop a schema to perform engineering design optimization on said drone landing gear. To be able to create the landing gear geometry and analyze the landing impact, we use FreeCAD, a Python 3.0-based open source CAD program with the open source Calculix FEA solver included. This allows us to programmatically generate and analyze large amounts of landing gear geometries in Python. The Python integration with FreeCAD makes this software ideal for integration into our optimization algorithms, allowing us to simulate and optimize a large number of landing gear designs programmatically.

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