The first step in designing a drone, or anything for that matter, is knowing what you are trying to design. In the engineering world, the design typically comes from a set of requirements from the customer. Without a list of requirements you will be designing a product blindly. You do not want to go down this road…

For the purpose of learning the design process, we have made an extremely simplified sample of a customer requirements “document.”

The desired aircraft shall have the capability to entertain the user through the use of high speed FPV (First Person View) flight. In order to appeal to the user, the aircraft shall be able to fly at a top ground speed of at least 50 mph. The aircraft shall also be electrically powered. Because we want our users to be able to pick up and fly wherever they like, the aircraft shall be able to fit in a standard size backpack. The remote, flight batteries and FPV equipment will also be able to fit inside the same back pack. The users shall also be able to operate for a minimum of 8 minutes per battery pack.

It’s very important at this point to dissect these requirements and come up with both defined and derived requirements. Defined requirements sentences that have the word “shall” in them. Derived from the defined requirements are those that have the word “will.” An example of tracking these can be seen below.


Now that we have our defined and derived requirements listed, we need to note how we’re going to comply with the requirements. In the next column in our spreadsheet we will list our projected compliance as seen below. Throughout the process, the compliance list will become more detailed.


Being certain to comply with all these requirements is key to the design and keeping your customer happy. In other words, requirements tracking and compliance checking is a never ending process!

Now that we have our requirements and our plans for compliance, we can start piecing together a conceptual design of our aircraft. We will pick up here next week.

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