The Modular Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)


The Modular Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is a research platform designed and built by the CSIR to provide a capability for validating advanced novel technology components and basic sub systems by integration and demonstration in a relevant flight environment. The airframe is designed to maximise it’s functionality as a research platform. The airframe is also focused towards increased airframe reliability through reducing single points of failure by having redundancies in the power train and controls.


The conventional single fuselage UAS geometry is restrictive in the limits it places on the installation of larger payloads volumes and geometries. The Modular UAS is unique in that it has two functionally independent fuselages, modular design with the capability of accepting a variety of payload geometries. The two fuselages are spaced sufficiently far apart so that the wing joining them plays a significant role in the performance and handling characteristics of the airframe.

The baseline Modular UAS consists of the following:
• Two fuselages, each being functionally independent of the other. Each one contains a 3 kW brushless electric motor and speed controller, propeller, batteries and related systems. Each fuselage is fitted with an undercarriage and each is sized to fit a PC104 printed circuit board based autopilot for research purposes.
• A generic, central payload pod large enough to fit an autopilot (if required) and additional flight test equipment. The payload pod on the initial airframes is mounted below the central wing.
• A constant-chord central wing segment fitted with flaps and hard points for the mounting of payloads either above or below itself. This central wing is designed with sufficient anhedral to position the low profile payload pod away from contact with the ground.
• Two constant chord outboard wing panels fitted with ailerons.
• UAS flight and flight test equipment including a laptop-based ground control station.

A central hard point on this wing provides the capability to mount custom-sized payload pods or propulsion units as required. A unique pod can be designed for each application, optimising the UAS utility. All major aerodynamic control surfaces (ailerons, elevator/stabilators, rudders and flaps) are replicated (exist on both sides) introducing redundancy into the airframe. The length of the tail booms from the forward fuselage to the vertical fins is adjustable at manufacture to accommodate directional behavioural requirements based on different possible wing geometries.

There are a number of additional configurations that are attainable through utilising the modularity of the concept. The baseline Modular UAS is not optimised for performance as the initial design was driven by functionality, modularity and safe handling characteristics. Recently a higher performance wing (of six metre span) has been designed for an eight hour border safeguarding mission experiment.

John Morgan
Telephone number: 012 841 2738

Kimal Hiralall
Telephone number: 012 841 3187