Electric aircraft design tool makes commercial debut

AMMarch21News - LaunchPoint
AMMarch21News - LaunchPoint

As transportation and aerospace companies ramp up development of flying vehicles to meet the mobility demands of the future, they face significant up-front costs and modelling uncertainties that slow down the design process.

LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions, an aerospace propulsion innovator known for its patented electric motors, hybrid-electric propulsion systems, and control software for drones and flying cars announced it has released a pioneering tool to help companies fast-track aircraft propulsion systems designs.

The Modeling Advanced Aircraft Propulsion (MAAP) tool allows developers to virtually model “what if” configuration scenarios for new electric and hybrid-electric aircraft systems including varying power levels, number of rotors, battery and fuel levels and overall system layouts.

This means that engineers can discover what a vehicle’s powertrain “looks like” based on different propulsion system models before they build a prototype that may not be optimised or work reliably, thereby avoiding costly mistakes early in the design process.

“MAAP will allow companies designing cutting-edge aircrafts to shorten design cycle time while unlocking system performance and weight,” said Rob McDonald, LaunchPoint advisory board member.

“Most vehicle development teams in this space rely on off-the-shelf, commercial systems to meet aggressive timelines. They do not have the luxury of an in-house powertrain design team tooled up to perform complex trades concurrent with the vehicle design or to consider bespoke motors and drives. However, it is through this tight integration of powertrain and vehicle design teams that challenging eVTOL concepts become feasible,” said McDonald. “At LaunchPoint, we have successfully used this tool to develop our own motors, controllers, and propulsion systems for electric flight. With LaunchPoint and MAAP, any aircraft design team has access to a world-class, in-house motor and drive design capability."

LaunchPoint’s announcement of the MAAP tool comes at a time when companies are rushing to develop electric and hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL) — small and medium-sized aircrafts that can be used as flying taxis, cars, and for cargo transportation.

The anticipated growth of this market has resulted in many nascent firms being valued as multi-billion dollar companies, leading to a flurry of company mergers, acquisitions and public offerings through partnerships with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). LaunchPoint, which originally developed the MAAP tool with funding as an Uber Elevate partner, recently completed its first license of the tool to an overseas automaker. Company executives expect the tool will become a key resource for many other fast-growing eVTOL firms.

The MAAP tool was used extensively for the development of LaunchPoint’s first products - the 6KW hybrid-electric genset for drones and the 40 KW genset for larger drone cargo and future air taxis. The company is now employing MAAP to create higher-power propulsion system solutions for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market applications. The types of aircrafts being developed for the AAM markets are widely regarded as the future of urban airborne transportation.

“LaunchPoint is uniquely positioned to work with air vehicle integrators to help design aircraft propulsion systems and to validate designs for the Advanced Air Mobility market,” says Rob Reali, LaunchPoint’s CEO. “In addition to the MAAP™ design tool we also provide a suite of electric motors, controllers, and generator sets that are ideal in certain classes of vehicles this exciting industry is developing.”


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