Coaxial rotor uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) are compact compared to single rotor UAVs of comparable capacity. At the low Reynolds numbers (Re) where they operate, the simplifying assumptions from high Re rotor aerodynamics are not valid. The low Re coaxial rotor flowfield is studied including aerodynamic interactions and their effect on performance. The evolution of the wake is captured using high-speed stereo particle image velocimetry (SPIV). Improvement of upper rotor performance due to viscous swirl recovery from the lower rotor is discovered and then verified by analyzing PIV data. Interesting vortex–vortex sheet interactions are observed under the coaxial rotor affecting wake structure spatially and temporally. A qualitative model explaining the observed wake interaction phenomena is presented. Comparison with the performance of high Re rotors shows higher profile and induced drag at low Re for the same thrust coefficient.

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