Faculty Advisor

Cagdas Onal

Faculty Advisor

Gregory Fischer

Faculty Advisor

Stephen S. Nestinger


Unmanned aerial vehicles are a salient solution for rapid deployment in disaster relief, search and rescue, and warfare operations. In these scenarios, the agility, maneuverability and speed of the UAV are vital components towards saving human lives, successfully completing a mission, or stopping dangerous threats. Hence, a high speed, highly agile, and small footprint unmanned aerial vehicle capable of carrying minimal payloads would be the best suited design for completing the desired task. This thesis presents the design, analysis, and realization of a dual-nacelle tiltrotor unmanned aerial vehicle. The design of the dual-nacelle tiltrotor aerial vehicle utilizes two propellers for thrust with the ability to rotate the propellers about the sagittal plane to provide thrust vectoring. The dual-nacelle thrust vectoring of the aerial vehicle provides a slimmer profile, a smaller hover footprint, and allows for rapid aggressive maneuvers while maintaining a desired speed to quickly navigate through cluttered environments. The dynamic model of the dual-nacelle tiltrotor design was derived using the Newton-Euler method and a nonlinear PD controller was developed for spatial trajectory tracking. The dynamic model and nonlinear PD controller were implemented in Matlab Simulink using SimMechanics. The simulation verified the ability of the controlled tiltrotor to track a helical trajectory. To study the scalability of the design, two prototypes were developed: a micro scale tiltrotor prototype, 50mm wide and weighing 30g, and a large scale tiltrotor prototype, 0.5m wide and weighing 2.8kg. The micro scale tiltrotor has a 1.6:1 thrust to weight ratio with an estimated flight time of 6 mins in hover. The large scale tiltrotor has a 2.3:1 thrust to weight ratio with an estimated flight time of 4 mins in hover. A detailed realization of the tiltrotor prototypes is provided with discussions on mechanical design, fabrication, hardware selection, and software implementation. Both tiltrotor prototypes successfully demonstrated hovering, altitude, and yaw maneuvering while tethered and remotely controlled. The developed prototypes provide a framework for further research and development of control strategies for the aggressive maneuvering of underactuated tiltrotor aerial vehicles.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Robotics Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





UAV, robot dynamics, Tiltrotor