LaunchPoint News

Electric Propulsion Start-Up LaunchPoint EPS Targets Drones, EVTOLs

Posted on Mon, Jan 11, 2021

 

By Graham Warwick
Aviation Week

LaunchPoint EPSʼ pancake electric motors could be integrated into stacked rotors for eVTOL air taxis.
Credit: LaunchPoint Technologies

Backed by 11 years of technology development, a new startup has been launched onto the market to provide electric propulsion systems for aircraft, starting with drones but aiming ultimately at urban air mobility.

Goleta, California-based LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions (EPS) has been spun off from technology incubator LaunchPoint Technologies, which has been developing power-dense Halbach-array electric motors since 2009.

The company is focused on commercializing motors, hybrid-electric gensets and control software developed by LaunchPoint, as well as modeling tools for designing electric aircraft propulsion systems.

The startup is scheduled to deliver “mature advanced” prototypes by early 2021 “that are ready to fly with five different customers, three commercial and two defense-related,” said Robert Reali, CEO of LaunchPoint EPS. Reali was previously chief operating officer with an eye surgery device startup.

Initially, the company is marketing 6-kW and 40-kW hybrid-electric power systems to extend the flight times of unmanned aircraft. These systems comprise a reciprocating engine, motor/generator, battery pack and an integrated engine, generator and bus controller.

“Urban air mobility is going to be huge, but we need revenue so near term we will address hybrid-electric propulsion for extended flight with large VTOL [vertical-takeoff-and-landing] drones,” says Michael Ricci, chief technology officer.

LaunchPointʼs integrated hybrid power system creates an electrical microgrid on the aircraft that can enable multiple gensets and batteries to be used for redundancy. The companyʼs SmartPoint control software manages that redundancy to provide reliability, Ricci says.

In parallel with pursuing the initial drone market, the startup is developing larger motors in the 100-250-kW range to power the lift rotors on electric VTOL air taxis. A prototype 250-kW system is to be ready by the first quarter of 2021. “That will take us solidly into UAM,” Ricci said.

LaunchPointʼs electric machines are an axial-flux design based on dual Halbach-array rotors sandwiching an ironless stator. This provides high efficiency with good specific power, the company says. Power output can be scaled up by stacking motors together.

A Halbach array is an arrangement of permanent magnets that augments the magnetic field on one side of the array while canceling the field on the other side. LaunchPointʼs “pancake” motor has two arrays separated by an axial gap.

The spinning rotors naturally pump air through the axial gap, self-cooling the machine and removing the need for liquid cooling. The high efficiency reduces waste heat and “self-cooling is a huge system weight saving,” Ricci said.

LaunchPoint EPS is also marketing the Modeling Advanced Aircraft Propulsion (MAAP) modeling and design software. Developed with funding support from NASA, Uber Elevate and automaker and eVTOL developer Hyundai, MAAP allows vehicle designers to perform multidisciplinary
optimization with propulsion in the loop, said Brad Paden, chief scientist.

MAAP enables joint optimization of motor and drive system with all their design constraints, and allows a designer to quickly size a propulsion system and consider different options, Paden said. The software enables designers to make decisions early and avoid the cost of multiple
prototypes, Reali said.

While most developers of conventional aircraft are forced to select an existing piston or turbine engine and design around it, with electric technology “there are all these knobs you can play with and reasonably expect to build a bespoke propulsion system for your vehicle,” Ricci said. EVTOL production volumes are expected to be high enough “that all the pieces in the propulsion system can be optimized.”

Please visit Aviation Week to view the original article

LaunchPoint EPS Featured in Pacific Coast Business Times

Posted on Mon, Jan 4, 2021

 

LaunchPoint EPS, Pacific Coast Business Times, Plugging Into Flight

LaunchPoint EPS Develops Electric Flight Systems in Goleta

By Jorge Mercado
Staff Writer, Pacific Coast Business Times

GOLETA, California – LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions is technically a startup, but the company was formed by a group of scientists in Goleta who have been making a difference in the area and the world for the past 30 years.

Those efforts, by the team from now defunct LaunchPoint Technologies, include helping to invent Inognen’s portable oxygen device and making advances in green power energy storage. The new project, led by LaunchPoint EPS CEO Robert Reali, is focused on electric motors—the kind that could revolutionize air shipping and travel.

Before joining LaunchPoint, Reali was the chief operations officer of Santa Bar-bara-based TrueVision, a company that started with four employees and eventually grew to become a major eye-surgery device firm that was acquired by Alcon in 2019.

“It’s one of the most satisfying things for me personally,” he said, referring to his experience with TrueVision. “I’m a perfect fit to work with brilliant scientists and guide them to turning it into a product into a profitable enterprise.”

LaunchPoint’s focus is on electric motors and controllers for urban air mobility, such as flying cars, and hybrid electric flight with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

Major breakthroughs in electric flight technology would revolutionize travel, making it possible to move things—and even people—much quicker and with a much smaller environmental footprint.

“I believe all the pieces of this puzzle are on the table now. We do have all the technology that is necessary to make it work,” Paulo Iscold, an aerospace engineering professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, told the Business Times over email. “Maybe the puzzle has too many pieces now, too complex and complicated, and that is the reason that is being difficult to make it happen. Maybe some disruptive technology will come in the future and will make the puzzle simpler, but we have all we need now.”

As a result, some big companies have already started investing in the flying cars market, which is still a decade or two away from producing any products.

“Hyundai has a $1.5 billion investment in air mobility, Uber has announced air taxis, Amazon wants to deliver packages using drones and air mobility is a legislated market that the government is starting to enable,” Reali said.

Where LaunchPoint fits in this market is providing those big players with the electric motors for such vehicles or drones.

“We’ve got a very novel lightweight, power-dense, electric motor that’s super efficient, and that’s our advantage over all the competition,” Reali said. “Every company building these cars. We want to be their suppliers … and there’s a huge demand to be filled so we are accelerating our growth because we have very mature products that are ready to go to market.”

Flying cars are still years away, with most needing very powerful electric motors upwards of 100 kilowatts. Currently, LaunchPoint offers a six kilowatt electric motor and a 40 kilowatt motor.

“That’s where we are now, and we want to engage in the flying car industry and work with those companies to make those 100, 250 kilowatt motors and advance to that,” Reali said.

While that is their extended focus, LaunchPoint currently has five major customers for whom it has developed pro-pulsion systems, a system for getting one object from one place to another. This includes selling drone motors and controllers and hybrid systems to different U.S. military agencies.

“Our business plan is really two-fold: Selling the products now, growing into those larger programs of record with the U.S. Army, the Marine Corps, etc., and get-ting onboarded to be a key team member for the large urban air mobility developers.” said Chris Grieco, LaunchPoint EPS’ vice president for global business development and sales.

Reali said the company had obtained $2 million in contracts and revenue for 2020.

“We look to triple that next year, based on some of these mature prototypes turning into orders,” he said.
The company is in the process of closing its first round of seed money, Reali said, and has grown from 12 employees to 20 in six months.

The company hopes to add more engineers, which is a big reason why the team wants to stay in Goleta.

“I’ll give you two reasons why we stayed: UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,” Reali said. “There’s just something about this area that promotes open thinking, engineering interest, and inventing interesting things.”

For now, LaunchPoint is set up to be a big player in the urban air mobility market, whenever that day comes.

“Air mobility is a new step in the aero-space industry that can represent a new paradigm to be explored,” Iscold said. “If we succeed to put this puzzle together, and if the market demand really happens, the volume of the business that this will generate might be huge."

Rob Reali PCBTPhoto: LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions CEO Robert Reali at the company’s Goleta headquarters. LaunchPoint EPS develops electric engine systems for drones and is working toward electric engines that could propel flying passenger vehicles.

Please visit the Pacific Coast Business Times to view full article. 

New Aerospace Firm, LaunchPoint EPS, Prepared for Takeoff into Electric Aircraft Markets

Posted on Thu, Nov 5, 2020

New Aerospace Firm, LaunchPoint EPS, Prepared for Takeoff into Electric Aircraft Markets

Seasoned startup executive, Robert Reali, to lead venture


GOLETA, California – A team of high-level engineers and business executives from Santa Barbara are betting big on the future of electric-powered flight with the formation of a new startup, LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions (LaunchPoint EPS).

The fledgling aerospace firm emerges from longstanding, Goleta-based technology incubator and think tank, LaunchPoint Technologies, a leader in cutting-edge engineering design. LaunchPoint EPS will specialize in supplying cutting edge modeling and design software, hardware in the form of electric motors, hybrid gensets and controllers, and control software for the world’s fast-growing electric-and hybrid-electric-powered aircraft sector. This includes flight applications under development by companies such as major automotive companies, Uber and its air taxi affiliates and the U.S. military, ranging from cargo-carrying drones to airborne passenger taxis.

Robert Reali, an experienced leader of early-stage technology companies, will serve as LaunchPoint EPS’ Chief Executive Officer. Reali was previously chief operations officer for Santa Barbara-based startup TrueVision where he helped grow the company from four employees to a major eye-surgery device firm that was acquired by Alcon (a division of Novartis) in 2019.

LaunchPoint EPS has acquired all the assets and know-how of LaunchPoint Technologies related to the electric motor, hybrid-electric gensets and controller business including patents, intellectual property and proprietary processes, contracts, product orders, inventory, facilities, key personnel, and employees.

“The new company is focused on serving the surging urban air mobility market which has increased the demand for our power-dense electric motors and control software by the world’s largest players in this space,” said Reali. “The main reason for the spinout from LaunchPoint Technologies is to focus on shipping the products we invented. However, we will also continue the tradition of developing innovative new products to address market needs.”

LaunchPoint Technologies co-founders UCSB Professor Emeritus Dr. Brad Paden and brother, Dave Paden, will be part of the LaunchPoint EPS management team serving as Chief Scientist and VP of Manufacturing, respectively, along with former CEO and now LaunchPoint EPS Chief Technology Officer Mike Ricci, and Engineering Director Brian J. Clark. Chris Grieco, previously Executive Vice President of bulk energy storage company Gravity Power, LLC, will serve as LaunchPoint EPS’ Vice President for Global Business Development and Sales.

LaunchPoint EPS is located at 5735 Hollister Ave., Suite B, in Goleta. For more information call 805-683-9659 or visit https://www.launchpointEPS.com/.

LP_ManagementTeamFlareA110320

Photo L-R: Robert Reali (Chief Executive Officer); Brian J. Clark (Engineering Director); Brad Paden (Chief Scientist); Chris Grieco (VP of Business Development & Sales); Dave Paden (VP of Manufacturing); and Mike Ricci (Chief Technology Officer).

LaunchPoint Technologies Announces Award Selection for DoD-Army Phase II SBIR

Posted on Mon, Jul 22, 2019

LaunchPoint Technologies was recently selected for the award of a DoD-Army Phase II SBIR: "Electric Machines and Hybrid Drives for Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Tactical Air Vehicles"

A hybrid electric vehicle architecture can use the low-weight, high-power advantage of electric motors in conjunction with the high specific energy of liquid fuel to create a VTOL aircraft capable of long missions. A transitioning vehicle is an ideal architecture for hybrid propulsion technology due to the large difference in power for hover and cruise. In this system, the battery power would augment the liquid fuel for hover and then switch to exclusively liquid fuel during cruise. Transitioning vehicles that rely on conventional liquid fuel architectures are very complex and suffer from the limited specific power of liquid fuel engines and high hover power requirements; hybrid technology can enable simple architectures for transitioning vehicles and take advantage of high specific power electric motors. High-reliability hybrid-electric transitioning vehicles could replace many of the Army’s large UAVs that currently need a catapult system, or a runway for takeoff. A highly reliable hybrid propulsion system is the key ingredient for these types of VTOL UAVs. In this phase I, LaunchPoint Technologies plans to further develop a hybrid propulsion system in the 80 kW range for VTOL systems with an innovative fault detection and response module.

Link to Army SBIR Announcement Website

LaunchPoint Technologies Awarded DoD-Army Phase I SBIR

Posted on Fri, Aug 31, 2018

 

LaunchPoint Technologies Awarded DoD-Army SBIR Phase I "Hybrid VTOL Aircraft Propulsion System"

Hybrid-electric transitioning vehicles could replace many of the Army’s large UAVs that currently need a catapult system or a runway for takeoff.  A hybrid propulsion system is the key ingredient for these types of VTOL UAVs.  In this Phase I, LaunchPoint Technologies plans to develop a hybrid propulsion system in the 80 kW range for VTOL systems. (Principal Investigator: Dave Paden)

 
 

LaunchPoint Technologies Awarded NASA Phase I SBIR

Posted on Wed, Aug 8, 2018

 

LaunchPoint Technologies Awarded NASA SBIR Phase I "Energy Management for Electric Flight"

The management of energy micro-grids in electrically-powered aircraft is complex and challenging – especially with the safety and redundancy requirements for aircraft carrying people. In this SBIR project, LaunchPoint will address micro-grid management using reconfigurable component and system models combined with real-time system optimization. With this approach, energy is conserved and rapid reconfiguration is achieved in the event of faults. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Brad Paden)

 
 

Army Research Labs Announces Collaboration with Uber and LaunchPoint Technologies

Posted on Tue, May 8, 2018

U.S. Army Research Labs and Uber announce key Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) that includes LaunchPoint technologies. Read more by clicking the link below:

ARL and Uber Announce CRADA

 
 

LaunchPoint Technologies is Now Hiring: Embedded Software and Controls Engineer

Posted on Thu, Apr 26, 2018

Embedded Software and Controls Engineer

LPT is looking for an Embedded Software/Controls Engineer to assist with the continuing development of our hybrid-electric UAV motor controllers and associated power electronics.

Job duties include, but are not limited to: Refactoring and improving our embedded firmware code base for high power motor controllers, using field oriented control methods (15 kW, 40 kW), this will also include our gen-sets and hybrid power management system for UAVs and personal air vehicles.  Validation testing (both hardware and software) of the resulting systems, documenting performance, discovering bugs and fixing them, and innovating new features/functionality will be required.  Interaction with the mechanical/thermal and electrical team members will be required and likely cross over into helping with those areas will be frequent once the embedded firmware is in better shape. 

This position requires access to systems/tools that are restricted to individuals who possess US Citizenship.

 

Responsibilities:

Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to, those listed below:

Development of motor controller embedded software using embedded C for TI processors

Creation of LabVIEW VIs for motor controller and motor testing

Test and tune motors and motor controllers

Troubleshoot and support for embedded systems using equipment such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and DMMs


Required Skills:
The successful applicant must have the specific education/experience requirements below: 

BS in CE or EE, with relevant experience

Previous experience with embedded software and general hardware

Proficient use of typical CE/EE lab equipment: oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and multimeters

Ability to work both independently as well as with team members

Proficient in C, embedded C

 

Desired Skills:
Analog and digital PCB development experience, including full documentation and validation

Design experience with  OrCAD, SOLIDWORKS

Simulation experience with  PSpice

Control Systems modeling in MATLAB/Simulink

Feedback loop experimental characterization and correlation with theoretical models

Multi-disciplinary skill sets (electrical, mechanical, high voltage lab testing) as well as strong software architecture skills desired

 

Compensation:

Competitive compensation structure (D.O.E.)

 

Schedule

Full-Time, Monday to Friday, 8:00AM to 5:00PM

 

Benefits include:

Employer matched retirement plan

Employer subsidized healthcare

Paid holidays, PTO combined vacation and sick time, etc.

Growth opportunities available for the right candidate

 

LaunchPoint Technologies provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. This position requires access to systems/tools that are restricted to individuals who possess US Citizenship.

 
Please Send Your Cover Letter and Resume to:
jobs@launchpnt.com
 
 

Come Visit LaunchPoint at AHS Forum 74

Posted on Wed, Apr 18, 2018
LaunchPoint Technologies will be attending AHS International's Forum 74 from May 14th to May 18th in Phoenix, Az. Please come visit LaunchPoint's VP of Engineering, Mike Ricci, on Monday, May 14th when Mike will give a short talk on permanent magnet electric motors and VTOL technology.
 
 forum74_rgb
 
 
 

Come Visit LaunchPoint at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018

Posted on Mon, Mar 26, 2018
LaunchPoint Technologies will be attending AUVSI 2018. Please come visit us at HFE International's booth 2117, where we'll be showcasing our advanced hybrid electric UAV power and propulsion systems.