Arizona State student Kickstarts JetQuad, a quadcopter powered by jet engines

Alexander Taits is looking for funding for his drone, powered by four jet engines.

Alexander Taits wants to develop quad copters that can go faster and fly higher than current drones. He’s not interested in minor improvements and is instead shooting for jet engine capability.

Current calculations say that his JetQuad drone will be able to reach approximately 33,000 feet and approach speeds near the speed of sound. Four Xtreme Turbines X24 are expected to give a total of 96 pounds maximum thrust and 120,000 rpm speed to the JetQuad.

Taits is an Arizona State University PhD candidate, studying aerospace engineering with a concentration in propulsion.

The campaign video shows a few tests that have been done using a proof of concept model and tethers. Stability and length of flight issues are still being developed. The full assembly is expected to consume thirty six ounces of jet fuel per minute and run for three minutes at full power.

JetQuad is an interesting project for several reasons. There’s definitely a maker spirit attached to the endeavor but the drone is fully designed and CAD layouts and rendered models are included in the video.

Computer analysis is heavily embedded in the project. Dynamic modeling was done to help with the stability issues. Computational flow dynamic work was done to understand aerodynamic properties and thermal areas of concern. Finite element models are planned to ensure that JetQuad can withstand the loads applied during takeoff and landings.

Alexander addresses a very fundamental question in his Kickstarter video, one that I often ask students as they’re developing senior design projects. Why hasn’t this been done before? Generally that question can lead engineers and designers down a path that shows the major pitfalls they will need to avoid over the life of a project.

JetQuad looks like an amazing project. I’m hoping there’s a small team working on the drone and not just Taits, even though he’s the only one featured in the no-frills video. The probability for success seems high and I’ll be interested to see the design tradeoffs that need to be made in the next year to reach production readiness.