A novel experimental model and a drag-optimal allocation method for variable-pitch propellers in multirotors

Victor Manuel Arellano-Quintana*, Emmanuel Alejandro Merchan-Cruz, Antonio Franchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


This paper proposes a new mathematical model to map the rotational speed and angle of attack (pitch) of small-size propellers typically used in multirotors and the aerodynamic thrust force and drag moment produced by the propeller itself. The new model is inspired by standard models using the blade-element and momentum theories, which have been suitably modified in order to allow for explicit fast computation of the direct and inverse map (useful for high-frequency control) and obtain a better adherence to experimental data. The new model allows and captures all the main nonlinear characteristics of the thrust/drag generation. An extensive experimental comparison shows that the prediction capability of the proposed model outperforms the most commonly used models at date. In the second part of the paper, two optimization methods are proposed in order to exploit the redundancy of the inputs of variable-pitch propellers to decrease the power consumption due to the drag dissipation. The first method deals with the optimal allocation for thrust generation on a single propeller, while the second method is aimed at solving the optimal allocation of the rotational speed and pitch of all the propellers in a multi-rotor with any number of propellers. Simulations results show the viability and effectiveness of the proposed methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8523671
Pages (from-to)68155-68168
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerial vehicles
  • Multirotors
  • Systems identification
  • Variable-pitch propellers


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