Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.


Mechanical Engineering; General Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Christopher Kitts

Second Advisor

Godfrey Mungal

Third Advisor

Michael Taylor


Despite the rapid rise in the number of drones in the past few years, there has been little work done to produce a drone that is optimized for the FAA' s 55 lb upper takeoff limit. This gap in the market is one that the Heavy Lift Drone (HLD) fills - a light-weight, higher payload capability, and inexpensive drone to be used in commercial applications - most notably irrigation monitoring. The HLD is a contra-rotating hexagonal configuration system featuring two levels of propellers that allow for larger propeller diameter and generate greater lift. After performing extensive finite element analyses and material testing, as well as the design, assembly, and flight test of a quadcopter prototype, the equipment, electronics, and components to be used on the final HLD were chosen. The four individual subsystems - mechanical, aerospace, electronics, and software - were each addressed and analyzed separately. It was found that the inclusion of the ducts (shrouds) around the propellers does indeed increase the lift of the drone by a factor of 14.7%. Additionally, the final projected cost for the drone, including labor and volume production, was significantly lower than that of our direct competitors, standing at $13,921. This is nearly 8.5% lower than the nearest comparable drone available for sale, while also featuring a higher projected payload to weight ratio of 0.5, as opposed to 0.4 for the competition. Finally, the HLD utilized multiple software applications that were implemented for effective flight planning, automated image stitching, and analysis of the IR photos taken during flight operation in order to generate a new flight plan.