Ames Research Center
June 4 – August 10, 2018
Goals of your project/s:
Current research in the Aeromechanics branch at NASA Ames Research Center involves the modeling and testing of urban air mobility designs. A specific example of this is the need to design specialty buildings, called vertiports, that can support a large fleet of vertical take off and landing vehicles (VTOL). Six proposed future vertiport concepts were pitched from architecture firms at the 2018 Uber Elevate Summit. From these six it was decided to analyze the Uber Hover design from Humphreys and Partners Architects. The building is essentially a large round cylinder with twelve landing and takeoff pads. There are several advantages of this design. One advantage is that one side of the building is always in the wind, an ideal condition for takeoff. The other is that all of the VTOLs are housed inside of the major structure until they reach one of the takeoff pads, allowing for passengers to be shielded from inclement weather. A simplified-full scale model was created in SolidWorks for the simulation group to do basic computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on the structure using multiple VTOL configurations. A highly detailed version was designed for the purpose of testing in a wind tunnel to verify CFD results. This model was designed as a modular set to only allow for easy construction and to open up the possibility of extending the size of the structure. Future work for this model would be to continue wind tunnel testing with and without rotors. For the subject as a whole modeling a second structure from the set of six would be helpful to NASA and Uber for deciding what structure offers the best performance in terms of aerodynamics of the building and its interaction with VTOLs.
Describe what you did during the internship.
I built a CAD model for ROTCFD simulations of the Humphreys vertiport. Built a high detail CAD model of the Humphrey Vertiport for 3D printing Build a CAD model for high density foam and taskboard construction along with engineering drawings of all pieces and how they fit together. Began building the high density 1/180th scale model. Made 2 outreach posters, one for Urban air mobility and one for the 2020 Mars helicopter. Volunteered at 3 outreach events, San Francisco Pride, Ames Tech Showcase, and the Mountain View tech showcase. Made a branch Shiggy challenge music video with the help of other interns that went on the branches facebook and youtube. currently has 1,250 views.
Did you achieve your goals? What were the results and conclusions?
Uber’s urban air mobility initiative is an extremely ambitious one with large engineering challenges and an aggressive timeline . However, the need for fast cheap travel is seriously needed in large metropolitan areas and UberAir has real tangible potential to relieve the traffic stress that these areas are under. For the transportation technology to become mainstream it will need to be cheap and for it to be cheap it will need to move a large amount of passengers every hour . It is for this reason that work on these future vertiport concepts is critical to the technologies success, since it is these buildings that will provide the infrastructure to allow for large amounts of passengers to move throughout the urban area. Regarding this project a lot was learned concerning scale model construction of buildings this large. A lot of time on the project was spent just figuring out how to design and build a scale model of Humphreys and Partners Architects’ Uber Hover cheaply and efficiently. It is for this reason that unfortunately once the design was settled on and approved for construction not enough time remained to be able to build both models or do any physical testing. However, all the groundwork has been laid for the smooth completion of this project. Furthermore, future projects in this area have the opportunity to use this project as a role model for what to do with regards to designing and constructing future vertiport concepts.
Describe positive lessons learned from this experience:
I learned a lot about real world engineering, especially as it relates to planning, design, manufacturing and time management. Learned a lot about the potential benefits of the urban air mobility market. Learned CAD modeling in Solidworks where all my previous experience had been in CREO and Inventor. Made a lot of valuable networking connections with my fellow interns as well as branch faculty.
Describe negative lessons learned from this experience:
I did not get to see my project through to completion due to scheduling with other engineers to review our design for manufacturing and for planning out what tests would be preformed on the structure.