Two California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo students were tasked with solving a systems level engineering problem to suit the needs of Cal Poly’s unmanned-aerial vehicle (UAV) team in the form of a ground station. In addition to implementing an AC power generation system in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, the students needed to develop a loading and unloading system to move the large UAV helicopters, which weigh 200 to 550 lbs. Accuride's super heavy-duty aluminum AL4120 slides fulfilled the application requirements of load, z-height, and aesthetics. The AL4120 slide, which is lightweight and corrosion resistant, was incorporated into the design by mechanically fastening the slides to a reinforced structure made of 80/20 aluminum extrusions. The 80/20 structure carried the weight of the UAVs in and out of the vehicle.
The UAV Ground Station was exhibited in the field at a demonstration to various UAV sponsors including Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Both defense industry companies were quite impressed with the ground station and the especially light action of Accuride’s slides under such heavy loads.