Hybrid electrical generator techniques for drones

As the commercial and military drone industries grow and drone manufacturing matures, aerospace companies develop products that help extend the range of unmanned vehicles. CA-based aerospace startup LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions, Inc. announced a new hybrid electric generator system that combines traditional fuel and electricity to increase flight time and enable drones to haul heavier payloads.

“Drones installed with the 5.5 kW GenSet can travel further and carry more load than those equipped with other hybrid propulsion system models, which expands the possibilities for these types of aircraft,” said a press release from LaunchPoint.

As drone delivery testing extends to BVLOS cargo delivery in low-risk industrial environments such as pipeline management, the commercial benefits of hybrid electric generator systems – a cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution than gasoline engines and less problematic than hydrogen-powered solutions – require the installation of hydrogen generation facilities.

“The 5.5 kW GenSet can be used in both military and commercial drones and is currently being supplied to customers for applications ranging from global security to inspection and mapping to cargo delivery,” the press release said . “Demand is expected to continue to grow as the market for electric aircraft gathers momentum.”

“We are very proud of this groundbreaking system. Our master researchers and engineers have spent years optimizing and perfecting our hybrid electric and electric flight systems, and this latest GenSet is a highlight for us, ”said Chief Technology Officer Michael Ricci. “We are excited to take this out to the world and that LaunchPoint will continue to drive the growth of this emerging industry.”

In addition to power and range, the advantages of the 5.5 kW hybrid drive system include a battery management system (BMS), self-charging capability during the flight and a generator operated with liquid fuel. Drone operators can switch between liquid fuel and electricity depending on their power requirements and have a reliable backup power supply to complete a mission and land safely in the event that an aircraft runs out of fuel or the batteries run low.

“Our patented technologies eliminate the risk of various conventional failure modes found in electrical power systems and provide multiple levels of redundancy,” said Chris Grieco, vice president of business development and sales at LaunchPoint. “Our highly intelligent control system actively monitors all aspects of operations during take-off, hovering, cruising and landing, and reacts when necessary to ensure both optimal functionality and reliability for the mission objectives. This will show in real time when the unit flies in drones for large, important government customers this year. “

This innovative technology is scalable and offers new opportunities for companies working to develop long-haul, air transportation and cargo delivery systems for the so-called Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market.

The features of the HPS055 GenSet include:

  • 5 kW continuous power / 5.5 kW peak at 25 ° C ambient and sea level conditions with a fuel consumption of 810 g / kWh, self-cooled by air even in hover / zero flight speed
  • 7.5+ kW peak power in connection with a recommended 14-second battery
  • Autostart, in-flight GenSet shutdown and restart capacity restart
  • A LaunchPowerTM Power Management Unit (PMU) and a Battery Management System (BMS) that enable system monitoring, protection and power sharing between the battery and GenSet to maximize system performance and energy resource use under adverse conditions (high heat). The BMS also enables the battery to be safely and fully discharged and recharged as part of mission profiles
  • Controller Area Network (CAN) communication for complete system monitoring and control; Can also be operated in “stand-alone” mode with just a simple on / off signal from the flight controller

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional marketplace for drone services, and a passionate observer of the emerging drone industry and regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for emerging technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.

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