This semester, two senior teams, Pegasus Aviation and ARAS Innovations, joined forces to produce a lightweight air vehicle designed to provide valuable information along the Arizona-Mexico border to law enforcement officials. The new team, dubbed Pegasaurus, is a whopping 14 members strong, and is now in the design, build, fly phase of construction.
Last semester, both teams submitted their design into a competition run by BORDERS Program, a joint task force involving universities and law enforcement agencies across the southwest. The winning design in the competition would have the chance of being integrated into the signals gathering arsenal of border agents. Even though neither team won the competition, this semester they are building and flying an aircraft with the same specifications set out for the competition.
The plane, named the Cazador, is 10 feet in length with a 12 foot wingspan. The body measures 15 inches in diameter and is powered by two engines. The aircraft is made mostly out of composite material to make it light enough, at 55 pounds, to qualify as an Unmanned Air System (UAS) rather than an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). This is important because different laws affect where both air systems are allowed to fly. Usually flight areas for UAV’s are tightly restricted, but UAS’s can fly almost anywhere.
The aircraft is designed with rapid deployment in mind. As part of the specifications, the aircraft should be able to be shipped around the border in the back of a truck, and deploy wherever border agents need an eye in the sky. Once in the air, the Cazador has a camera bay that can be used to monitor the surrounding area. Although the team will not have a camera in their aircraft for testing, they will be working with an electrical engineering team to establish an autopilot system.