The Politecnico in flight with the ICARUS team

17 August 2017

Realise the dream of Icarus and design prototypes that can fly: this is the goal of the ICARUS(Innovation Center for Amateur Rocketry and Unmanned Ships) Team of the Politecnico di Torino, a group of 31 students founded in 2015 and coordinated by Professor Paolo Maggiore, which has the objective of providing students with a first practical approach to the world of aeronautical and space design.

From 7 to 11 August, the Team was engaged in Zagreb, Croatia, in its first competition, taking part in the Air Cargo Challenge. This is a biennial competition that aims to involve university students from around the world in the development of a racing model aeroplane.

The competition involves the design and subsequent construction of a high performance model aeroplane, following the specifications imposed by the call for entries, able to carry as much weight as possible in a small Cargo Bay.

During the race days, the teams first competed in a technical presentation of the project, which was awarded a score based on the implementation methods and philosophy of the race model; then the actual flight followed: the prototypes performed a flight with the cargo on board along a defined route, performing 10 passes over a distance of one hundred metres in the shortest time possible.

The ICARUS team took part with the Anubi model, an model aeroplane with a wingspan of 4 m, which obtained extremely flattering results for a first participation in the competition: the Team came 9th in the overall ranking of the 36 teams registered, but Anubi was also the second fastest model overall. The Team is also very pleased to have achieved the highest score in the presentation of the project, a result obtained only by one other of the groups present.

Much appreciated by the public and the jury was also the design, manoeuvrability and stability of the model and the unusual technical solutions used in the race, such as fowler flaps and strakes.

“Participating in the work of the Team is a unique experience”, say the students. “Testing our knowledge, applying it to a concrete problem, means having "gym" which will allow us to be better prepared for the employment world. In order to be as competitive as possible, we pushed our knowledge to the extreme, using high-level design techniques such as computer-aided structural and aerodynamic analyses and innovative production techniques, making extensive use of composite materials and 3D printing”.

In addition to the STORK model, the Team is making another prototype: the DART solid propellant rocket. Again, this is a model totally designed and built by the students who grappled with the most advanced design techniques, but also implementation of the rocket, from welding to component assembly, 3D printing, preparation of chemical compounds for the propellant and testing. In the coming months, the Team will launch the rocket, which should reach an altitude of approx. 2,000 metres.