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Title:
DIRECTIONALLY CONTROLLABLE FLYING VEHICLE AND A PROPELLER MECHANISM FOR ACCOMPLISHING THE SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/126469
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A flying vehicle in accordance to an embodiment of the present invention includes a propeller control mechanism for flying the vehicle. The propeller control mechanism includes a propeller having a center shaft for connecting to the drive shaft; first and second propeller blades extending from the center shaft; and a control mechanism including a first linkage connecting the center shaft to the first propeller blade and a second linkage connecting the center shaft to a region defined on the propeller, wherein a change in a driving torque of the drive shaft causes the first linkage and the second linkage to change the pitch and height of the propeller blades while substantially unchanging the tip path plane of the propeller blades.

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Inventors:
DAVIS STEVEN (US)
Application Number:
US2009/038798
Publication Date:
October 15, 2009
Filing Date:
March 30, 2009
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DAVIS STEVEN (US)
International Classes:
A63H27/127; B64C11/00; B64C27/20; B64C27/32; B64C29/00; B64C39/06
Foreign References:
US20040162001A12004-08-19
KR200352279Y12004-06-04
US5259729A1993-11-09
JP2006511399A2006-04-06
Other References:
See also references of EP 2285460A4
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SACHAROFF, Adam et al. (191 N. Wacker Drive,Suite 180, Chicago IL, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

I Claim:

1. A rotating flying vehicle comprising: a hub having an outer perimeter; an outer ring having a diameter greater than said outer perimeter defined by the hub; a plurality of hub blades extending outwardly and downwardly connecting the hub to the outer ring; a main propeller having a center shaft for connecting to a drive shaft extending from the hub, the main propeller having first and second propeller blades extending from the center shaft and positioned beneath said plurality of hub blades, the main propeller when spinning will cause the vehicle to sufficiently rotate such that the vehicle will fly; a system for determining a directional point of reference for the main propeller when the vehicle is rotating; and a propeller control mechanism using a cyclic driving torque to fly the vehicle in a specified direction relative to a remote user, the propeller control mechanism further includes a first linkage connecting the center shaft to the first propeller blade and a second linkage connecting the center shaft to a region defined on the main propeller, wherein a change in a driving torque of the propeller control mechanism causes the first linkage and the second linkage to work in concert to change the pitch and height of the propeller blades while substantially unchanging the tip path plane of the propeller blades.

2. The vehicle of Claim 1, wherein the second linkage has a substantially L shape design and includes a first end connected to the center shaft and a second end connected to the region of the main propeller at a distance below the first end.

3. The vehicle of Claim 2, wherein the region of the main propeller is further defined as an edge of the main propeller.

4. The vehicle of Claim 2, wherein the first and second linkages are flexible.

5. The vehicle of Claim 4, wherein the main propeller further includes an open region surrounding the center shaft and the first linkage.

6. The vehicle of Claim 5, wherein the first linkage has a portion thereof positioned in a portion of the open region, the first linkage having a first end attached to the center shaft and a second end attached to a region on the first blade.

7. A propeller control mechanism to fly an object in a specified direction, having a motor for rotating a drive shaft, comprising: a propeller having a center shaft for connecting to the drive shaft; first and second propeller blades extending from the center shaft; and a control mechanism including a first linkage connecting the center shaft to the first propeller blade and a second linkage connecting the center shaft to a region defined on the propeller, wherein a change in a driving torque of the drive shaft causes the first linkage and the second linkage to work in concert to change the pitch and height of the propeller blades while substantially unchanging the tip path plane of the propeller blades.

8. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 7, wherein the propeller further includes an open region surrounding the center shaft and the first linkage.

9. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 8, wherein the first linkage has a portion thereof positioned in a portion of the open region, the first linkage having a first end attached to the center shaft and a second end attached to a region on the first blade.

10. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 9, wherein the second linkage has a substantially L shape design and includes a first end connected to the center shaft and a second end connected to an edge of the main propeller at a distance below the first end.

11. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 10, wherein the first and second linkages are flexible.

12. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 7, wherein the propeller is a unitary piece.

13. A propeller control mechanism to fly an object in a specified direction, having a motor for rotating a drive shaft, comprising: a propeller having a center shaft for connecting to the drive shaft; first and second propeller blades extending from the center shaft; an open region surrounding the center shaft and extending to a region on the first propeller blade; and

a control mechanism including a first linkage connecting the center shaft to the first propeller blade and having a portion thereof positioned in the open region, the control mechanism further including a second linkage connecting the center shaft to a region defined on the propeller, wherein a change in a driving torque of the drive shaft causes the first linkage and the second linkage to work in concert to change the pitch and height of the propeller blades while substantially unchanging the tip path plane of the propeller blades.

14. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 13, wherein the first linkage has a first end attached to the center shaft and a second end attached to a region on the first blade.

15. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 13, wherein the second linkage has a substantially L shape design and includes a first end connected to the center shaft and a second end connected to the region of the main propeller at a distance below the first end.

16. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 13, wherein the first and second linkages are flexible.

17. The propeller control mechanism of Claim 15, wherein the region of the main propeller is further defined at an edge of the main propeller.

Description:

DIRECTIONALLY CONTROLLABLE FLYING VEHICLE AND A PROPELLER MECHANISM FOR ACCOMPLISHING THE SAME

Field of the Invention

[1] This invention relates to flying vehicles that are directionally controllable flying vehicles and related to a propeller mechanism for accomplishing the same.

Cross Reference to Related Applications

[2] The present application claims priority to US Application Serial Number 12/098,853 filed April 7, 2008 which is a Continuation in Part of 11/424,433 filed June 15, 2006, which is a Continuation In Part of US Patent 7,255,623, which is a continuation of US Patent 6,899,586, which is a continuation of US Patent 6,843,699. US Patent 6,843,699 claims the benefit of US Provisional Application 60/453,283 filed on March 11, 2003 and is a Continuation In Part Application of US Patent 6,688,936. All of which are incorporated by reference.

Background of the Invention

[3] Most vertical takeoff and landing vehicles rely on gyro stabilization systems to remain stable in hovering flight. For instance, the inventor's previous U.S. Patent 5,971,320 and corresponding International PCT Application WO 99/10235 disclose a helicopter with a gyroscopic rotor assembly to control the orientation or yaw of the helicopter. However, different characteristics are present when the entire body of the vehicle, such as a flying saucer, rotates. Gyro stabilization systems are typically no longer useful when the entire body

rotates, for example, see U.S. Patents 5,297,759; 5,634,839; 5,672,086; and U.S. Patents 6,843,699 and 6,899,586.

[4] However, a great deal of effort is still made in the prior art to eliminate or counteract the torque created by horizontal rotating propellers in flying aircraft in an effort to increase stability. For example, Japanese Patent Application Number 63-026355 to Keyence Corp. provides a first pair of horizontal propellers reversely rotating from a second pair of horizontal propellers in order to eliminate torque. See also U.S. Patent 5,071,383 which incorporates two horizontal propellers rotating in opposite directions to eliminate rotation of the aircraft. Similarly, U.S. Patent 3,568,358 discloses means for providing a counter-torque to the torque produced by a propeller because, as stated in the '358 patent, torque creates instability as well as reducing the propeller speed and effective efficiency of the propeller. [5] The prior art also includes flying or rotary aircraft which have disclosed the ability to stabilize the aircraft without the need for counter-rotating propellers. U.S. Patent 5,297,759 incorporates a plurality of blades positioned around a hub and its central axis and fixed in pitch. A pair of rotors pitched transversely to a central axis to provide lift and rotation are mounted on diametrically opposing blades. Each blade includes down-turned outer tips, which create a passive stability by generating transverse lift forces to counteract imbalance of vertical lift forces generated by the blades. This helps to maintain the center of lift on the central axis of the rotors. In addition, because the rotors are pitched transversely to the central axis to provide lift and rotation, the lift generated by the blades is always greater than the lift generated by the rotors.

[6] Nevertheless, there is always a continual need to provide new and novel self- stabilizing rotating vehicles that do not rely on additional rotors to counter the torque of a

main rotor. Such self-stabilizing rotating vehicles should be inexpensive and relatively noncomplex.

[7] In addition to providing a self-stabilizing rotating vehicle, the ability to provide a simple hovering vehicle that is also controllable greatly enhances the vehicle. When the entire vehicle rotates the vehicle loses an orientation reference, which helps the remote user determine the direction in which the vehicle should move. In helicopters, airplanes, or other typical flying aircraft that have defined front ends or noses, the aircraft has a specific orientation that is predetermined by the nose of the vehicle. In such circumstances a user controlling the aircraft could push a joystick controller forwards (or push a forwards button) to direct the aircraft to travel forwards from its point of reference; similar directional controls are found in conventional remote controlled vehicles. However, when a vehicle completely rotates, such as a flying saucer or any other rotating vehicle, the rotating vehicle loses its orientation as soon as it begins to spin, making directional control difficult to implement. For example, U.S. Patent 5,429,542 to Britt, Ji\ as well as U.S. Patent 5,297,759 to Tilbor et al. disclose rotating vehicles but only address movement in an upwards, downwards, and spinning direction; and U.S. Patent No's 5,634,839 and 5,672,086 to Dixon discuss the use of a control signal to direct the rotating vehicle towards or away from the user, thus requiring the user to move about the rotating vehicle to the left or right if the user wants the rotating vehicle to move towards that particular direction. [8] Furthermore, US Patent 5259729 assigned to Keyence Corporation attempted to provide a propeller blade tip path plane inclination device to help control the direction of the vehicle during flight. While this provides a good solution, US Patent 5259729 has difficulties. In certain circumstances, movement of the tip plane is undesirable. For example, when the propeller is placed within a circular outer hub with very little top and/or bottom clearance,

movement of the tip plane should be prevented to avoid having the tip make contact with other parts of the vehicle. In addition, when the propeller is part of a stacked propeller design inclination must be avoided to prevent the propellers from touching during flight. Embodiments provided herein attempt to solve these difficulties.

Summary of the Invention

[9] In accordance with an embodiment a controllable flying vehicle is provided. The flying toy includes a main propeller attached to a central hub. The main propeller includes a pair of propeller blades extending from a propeller shaft. A plurality of hub blades is fixed to and extends outwardly and downwardly from the central hub. The main propeller and plurality of hub blades rotate in opposite directions caused by the torque of a motor mechanism used to rotate the main propeller. The hub blades extend from the central hub to an outer ring. The main propeller extends downwardly from the central hub and is positioned below the hub blades such that the end tips of the main propeller lie within the outer ring. The propeller further includes a pair of linkages connecting the propeller to the propeller shaft which is secured to a drive shaft. When the torque of the motor mechanism is changed the pitch and height of the propeller blades also change in such a way to substantially counteract the inclination of the end tips.

[10] In another embodiment a propeller control mechanism for a flying object having a motor for rotating a drive shaft is provided. The propeller control mechanism includes a propeller having a center shaft for connecting to the drive shaft; first and second propeller blades extending from the center shaft; and a control mechanism including a first linkage connecting the center shaft to the first propeller blade and a second linkage connecting the center shaft to

a region defined on the propeller, wherein a change in a driving torque of the drive shaft causes the first linkage and the second linkage to change the pitch and height of the propeller blades such that the tip path plane of the propeller blades remains substantially unchanged. [11] The second embodiment may further include an open region surrounding the center shaft and the first linkage. The first linkage has a portion thereof positioned in a portion of the open region, wherein the first linkage has a first end attached to the center shaft and a second end attached to a region on the first blade. The second linkage may further have a substantial L shape design that includes a first end connected to the center shaft and a second end connected to the region of the main propeller at a distance below the first end. In addition, the first and second linkages may be flexible. The entire propeller may also be a unitary piece. [12] In another embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a propeller mechanism that is defined as including a main propeller having a pair of propeller blades extending from a propeller shaft. The propeller blades have end tips. The propeller further includes a pair of linkages connecting the propeller to the propeller shaft which is secured to a drive shaft. When the torque of the motor mechanism is changed the pitch and height of the propeller blades is also changed in such a way to counteract the inclination of the end tips. [13] Numerous other advantages and features of the invention will become readily apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the embodiments thereof, from the claims, and from the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[14] A fuller understanding of the foregoing may be had by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[15] FIG 1 is a top perspective view of a controllable flying vehicle in accordance with a first embodiment;

[16] FIG 2a is a bottom view of the main propeller;

[17] FIG 2b is a close perspective view of the propeller mechanism;

[18] FIG 2c is a side view of the main propeller;

[19] FIG 2d is a top view of the main propeller;

[20] FIGS 3a through 3c and corresponding FIGS 3d through 3f, there is shown three views of the main propeller at three various torque positions;

[21] FIGS 4a and 4b illustrate a controllable flying vehicle in accordance with a first method of control;

[22] FIGS 5a and 5b illustrate a controllable flying vehicle in accordance with a second method of control; and

[23] FIGS 6a and 6b illustrate a controllable flying vehicle in accordance with a third method of control.

Detailed Description of the Embodiments

[24] While the invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and will be described herein, in detail, the preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the spirit or scope of the invention and/or claims of the embodiments illustrated. [25] Referring to FIG 1, in a first embodiment of the present invention a flying rotating vehicle 5 is provided. The rotating vehicle 5 includes a single main propeller 12 rotatably

attached to a light weight counter-rotating main body 10. The counter-rotating main body 10 includes a central hub 14 that contains the drive and control mechanisms. A plurality of blades 22 extend outwardly and downwardly from the central hub 14 to an outer ring 24. The central hub houses a motor mechanism that is used to rotate a main propeller 12. A dome 32 may be positioned on top of the central hub 14 to provide a means for the reception of wireless signals, discussed in one or more of the embodiments below.

[26] As the main propeller 12 rotates, no attempt is made to counter the torque created from the rotating propeller 12. Instead the torque causes the vehicle 5 to rotate in the opposite direction. With sufficient RPMs the rotating vehicle 5 will lift off of the ground or a surface and begin flying. As mentioned above, the outer ring 24 and central hub 14 are connected by the plurality of hub blades 22. The hub blades 22 have lifting surfaces positioned to generate lift as the vehicle 5 rotates. Even though the hub blades 22 are rotating in the opposite direction as the main propeller 12, both are providing lift to the rotating vehicle 5. The hub blades 22 are categorized as counter-rotating lifting surfaces. The induced drag characteristics of the main propeller 12 verses the hub blades 22 can also be adjusted to provide the desired body rotation speed.

[27] The rotating vehicle 5 has the ability to self stabilize during rotation. This self stabilization is categorized by the following: as the rotating vehicle 5 is moved in someway it tilts to one direction and starts moving in that direction. A hub blade, of the plurality of hub blades 22, that is on the preceding side of the rotating vehicle 5 will get more lift than the blade on the receding side. This happens because the preceding blade will exhibit a higher inflow of air than the receding blade. Depending on the direction of rotation, the lift is going to be on one side or the other. This action provides a lifting force that is 90 degrees to the

direction of travel. Due to gyroscopic procession a reaction force manifests 90 degrees out of phase with the lifting force. This reaction force opposes movement of the vehicle and thus the rotating vehicle 5 tends to self stabilize. The self-stabilizing effect is thus caused by the gyroscopic procession and the extra lifting force on the preceding blade. [28] The placement of the center of gravity may also be a contributing factor for self- stabilization. It is believed that the self-stabilizing effect will increase when the CG is positioned above the bottom 24a of the outer ring 24 by a predetermined distance. The predetermined distance above the bottom 24a of the outer ring 24 was further found to be a distance substantially equal to about 10% to 40% of the internal diameter of the outer ring, more preferably to about 15% to 25% of the internal diameter of the outer ring. In addition, since overall weight contributes to the CG position, the CG position is easier to control when the hub blades 22 and outer ring 24 are made from a light-weight material. [29] The rotating vehicle 5 may also be particularly stable because there is a large amount of aerodynamic dampening caused by the large cross-sectional area of the hub blades 22. [30] During operation, the main propeller 12 is spinning thus drawing air from above the rotating vehicle downwardly through the counter rotating hub blades 22 within the outer ring 24. The air is thus being conditioned by the hub blades before hitting the main propeller 12. By conditioning the air it is meant that the air coming off the hub blades 22 is at an angle and at an acceleration, as opposed to placing the main propeller 12 in stationary air and having to accelerate the air from zero or near zero. The efficiency of the main propeller 12 is believed to be increased as long as the main propeller 12 is specifically pitched to take the accelerated air into account.

[31] In order to direction ally control the rotating vehicle 5, meaning to control the flying rotating vehicle in up/down, forward/backward, and left/right directions, the main propeller 12 includes a novel propeller mechanism that controls the pitch and height of the propeller blades such that the tip path plane is substantially unchanged. As mentioned US Patent 5259729 employs a slightly similar concept, however US Patent 5259729 requires the tip path plane to incline. If the tip path plane were to substantially change as taught by US Patent 5259729 then the tips of the propeller blades would make contact with the underside of the blades 22, which would be undesirable.

[32] Referring now to Figures 2a through 2d, there is illustrated the main propeller 12 in various views and also in a close view of the propeller mechanism 50. The main propeller 12 includes a pair of propeller blades 52 and 54 extending outwardly from a center region 56. The center region 56 includes a propeller shaft 58 that attaches to the drive shaft of a motor mechanism. Extending from the propeller shaft 58 is a pair of linkages that control the pitch and height of the propeller blades.

[33] A first linkage, referred to as the pitch control linkage 60 attaches to the propeller shaft 58 approximate to the plane of the propeller blades 52 and 54. The pitch control linkage 60 extends from the propeller shaft 58 and attaches to one 52 of the propeller blades. The propeller blade 52 includes a hollow section 62 surrounding the pitch control linkage 60. The hollow section 62 opens into an aperture 64 that further surrounds the propeller shaft 58. The hollow section 62 and the aperture 64 are provided to allow for the movement of the pitch control linkage 60 as shown and discussed below.

[34] A second linkage, referred to as the height control linkage 70 is secured to the propeller shaft 58 on one end 72 and secured at the other end 74 to a region 76 of the main

propeller 12. The height control linkage 70 may also be L shaped such that the end 72 secured to the propeller shaft is positioned below the end 74 secured to the region 76 of the main propeller 12. In other embodiments, the region 76 may be further defined as an edge of the main propeller 12.

[35] Both the first and second linkages 60 and 70 may be flexible and the entire main propeller including the propeller mechanism 50 could be molded into a single unitary piece. [36] During operation of the vehicle 5, the operator will have a remote control unit (not shown) that permits the user to make inputs to the direction of the vehicle 5. The inputs will change the driving torque of the propeller shaft 58. As the driving torque is increased the pitch control linkage 60 twists causing the pitch of one propeller blade to be increased as the pitch of the other propeller blade is decreased. While normally the change in pilch on the blades creates a tip path plane inclination, to counteract the tip path plane inclination, the height control linkage 70 pushes the propeller blade, with the increased pitch, downwards. This counterbalances the increased lifting force on the higher pitched blade and substantially keeps the tip path plane unchanged during the pitching.

[37] As shown in Figures 3a through 3c and Figures 3d through 3f, the propeller mechanism 50 is illustrated more clearly. In Figures 3a through 3c, the illustrations are viewed looking down onto the bottom of the propeller mechanisms; however, the below descriptions are taken as when the propeller mechanism 50 is attached to a vehicle and are thus described opposite to which they are illustrated.

[38] In Figure 3a and corresponding Figure 3d the main propeller 12 is in a lower torque state or not running. Blade A is biased slightly lower and at a higher pitch angle than the Blade B. The height control linkage 70 deflects Blade A down to counter an increased pitch

while deflecting Blade B up to counter the decreased pitch. This is done such that at a normal torque the two blades are substantially equal in pitch and height thereby provided a hovering state for the vehicle.

[39] The normal torque state is shown in Figure 3b and corresponding Figure 3f. In the normal torque state the height and pitch control linkages provide equal height and pitch to both blades.

[40] .In Figure 3c and corresponding Figure 3e, the main propeller 12 is in a higher torque state, the Blade A has a lower pitch and a higher height then Blade B.

[41] As illustrated in Figures 3a through 3c, the pitch control linkage 60 can be seen twisting from one position to the other position. The open region surrounding the pitch control linkage 60 is therefore helpful in allowing the twisting movement.

[42] As the propeller rotates, the propeller blades change positions and the propeller mechanism cycles through the positions to control the vehicle in the specific direction. The present invention further includes a cyclic varying torque that vectors the lifting force away from the center line without substantially inclining the tip path plane. The magnitude and direction of this vectoring is controlled by varying the amplitude and phase of the cyclically varying torque. The cyclically varying torque is created by superimposing a sine wave onto the voltage fed to the motor mechanism. The sine wave is synchronized to the rotational speed of the propeller. The phase and amplitude are controlled to facilitate the desired thrust vector direction and magnitude.

[43] Normally during cyclic pitch inputs used to direct a flying vehicle, the increase in pitch of one of the blades causes the tip of this blade to rise due to increased lift while simultaneously causing the opposite blade to lower due to decreased lift, resulting in a tip path

plane inclination. In one or more of the embodiments described herein, the driving torque causes the height and pitch control linkages to work in concert to control the pitch and at the same time counteract the lift on the propeller blade with the increased pitch (by pushing it downwards), while simultaneously counteracting the lowering of the opposite blade (by pushing it upwards), resulting in a substantially unchanged tip path plane during cyclic torque control inputs.

[44] In an aircraft with a non-rotating body such as a helicopter, the driving phase will be controlled relative to the helicopter body. In this situation the system will perform the same function as a swash plate in a standard helicopter. However, in a rotating aircraft, such as illustrated in Figure 1, the referencing of the phase angle is more complex. Several embodiments are included to describe these referencing systems.

[45] Referring now to Figure 4a, in a first method a mirror 100 is fixed to the drive shaft 105 that rotates the main propeller 12. The mirror 100 is also inclined to deflect an infra-red beam emitted from an IR emitter 110 in a radially scanning manner in synch with the main propeller 12. The beam emits through a transparent dome 115 and is detected by a controller and the phase is controlled directly in reference to the beam. The drive shaft 105 is driven by a motor 120 that receives power from a power pack 125, all of which is controlled by a circuit board 130. The IR sensor and motor voltage drive is shown in Figure 4b. [46] Referring now to Figure 5a, in a second method a shaft encoder 200 is placed on the drive shaft 105. An infra-red emitter is fixed to the rotating vehicle 5 radiating outwards from the centerline. A controller transmits a three motor drive signal to the vehicle 5. The motor drive values are used to control the magnitude of three virtual segments. These virtual segments are created by dividing the time between the shaft encoder pulses into three equal

time slots. This creates a pseudo sine wave with the correct phase and amplitude to drive the vehicle in various directions. Figure 5b illustrates the three motor drive signals and the shaft encoder time slots and corresponding motor values.

[47] Referring now to Figure 6a, in a third method a directional infra-red sensor 300 is fixed on the top of the vehicle and rotates with the vehicle 5. A shaft encoder 200 is placed on the drive shaft 105. The shaft encoder signal is used to create the driving sine wave. The rotating sensor is also used to create a ramp of the same number of steps as the sine wave. The ramp is used to control the phase of the sine wave, which creates the correct phase- referenced sine wave to drive the vehicle. Figure 6b illustrates the IR sensor and IR index ramp, the shaft encoder time slots and shaft encoder index along with the motor drive signal. [48] It should be further stated the specific information shown in the drawings but not specifically mentioned above may be ascertained and read into the specification by virtue of a simple study of the drawings. Moreover, the invention is also not necessarily limited by the drawings or the specification as structural and functional equivalents may be contemplated and incorporated into the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concept of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific methods and apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.