Aerospace Industry Looks to Drive System Design for Next-Generation Electrified Propulsion Solutions

InCEPTion Concept. © Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd

As the global automotive industry continues to attract attention for its widespread shift to electric vehicles, the aerospace industry is not far behind.

The dream of “flying cars” has been around since Glenn Curtiss conceptualized the Curtiss Autoplane in 1917. Today, however, the desire to increase mobility and widely expand the use of drone technology for commercial purposes has pushed the flying car concept into a new era. Even Cadillac, a company with a rich history of combustion-engine performance and luxury, recently announced its own vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) at the virtual CES 2021.

“Aviation mobility is a rapidly developing sector, from the desire and intent for unmanned drones as delivery devices to the push toward VTOL mobility services,” said Matt Hole, vice president, Engineering, DSD. “This level of innovation is exciting and speaks directly to the core of our expertise and drive we have as engineers.”

Recently, Drive System Design was tapped to support a UK-based government program for both manned and unmanned flight vehicles.

The project, known as InCEPTion (Integrated Flight Control, Energy Storage and Propulsion Technologies for Electric Aviation), is led by Blue Bear Systems Research and will be delivered by a consortium of organizations with highly specialized skills and infrastructure for design, analysis and testing. Together, the participating companies will develop a modular and highly integrated electric propulsion unit (complete with electric motor and power electronics), for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircrafts for up to 30 passengers.

“Development of a stand-alone electric propulsion unit for the aerospace industry is a fascinating project that poses many novel challenges, and our motor and inverter will play a critical role in meeting the efficiency and mass requirements,” explains John Morton, Drive System Design Engineering Director. “The level of integration in the unit and the modular construction means we will need to work very closely with our partners to ensure the project is successful.”

Drive System Design sees this as just the beginning of an entirely new phase of motor and electronics engineering.

“This initial aerospace program will certainly set the foundation of the technology required to bring these products to market, ultimately scaling to other regions and industries,” said Hole. “It’s an opportunity that highlights the unique electrified propulsion system capabilities and expertise of DSD.”