LaunchPoint News

Come Visit Us at AIAA Aviation Forum 2017

Posted on Tue, Jun 6, 2017

LaunchPoint Technologies will be attending AIAA Aviation Forum 2017. Please visit our demo booth outside the Transformational Electric Flight Expo.

 

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1.5 kW Hybrid Electric UAV Gen Set Update: Another Successful Test Flight

Posted on Mon, May 22, 2017

LaunchPoint Technologies is proud to announce another successful test flight of our 1.5 kW Hybrid Electric UAV Gen Set. This time, the flight was captured on video by LaunchPoint's Mike Ricci.

The 1.5 kW system was installed on a DJI S1000 sircraft piloted by Michael Green of LaunchPoint's partner company, Empirical Systems Aerospace.

 

Link to the Video:

1.5 kW Hybrid Electric UAV Gen Set -- Another Successful Test Flight

 

 

 
 
 
 

SBIR Update: LaunchPoint Has Been Selected for Four New SBIR Programs

Posted on Mon, May 22, 2017

LaunchPoint Technologies is proud to announce selection for the following Phase I SBIR programs:

 

NASA A1.03 Low Emissions Propulsion Hybrid Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Selected Proposal: Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Based Solid State Smart Circuit Protection

 

NASA A1.06 Vertical Lift Technology

Selected Proposal: Lightweight, Non-Contact Magnetic Transmission for UAV and Rotorcraft Applications

 

Army A171-002 Advanced Electric Motor Technology for Hybrid Electric Architectures

Slected Proposal: Advanced Electric Motor Technology

 

Navy 171-028 Lightweight Self-Start System for T56 Engine Driven Aircraft

Selected Proposal: Advanced Lightweight Starter Technology

 
 
 
 
 

Update: LaunchPoint's Recently Completed NASA and DoD Funded Research and Development Projects

Posted on Sat, Mar 4, 2017
LaunchPoint Technologies is continually developing advanced technologies in the field of hybrid electric aircraft power and propulsion systems. Here are some of our recently completed NASA and DoD research and development projects: 
  • DARPA Halbach Motor Development
    • Optimized, Designed , built and tested a 5 kW dual Halbach axial flux motor.
  • Air Force Modular Motor Controller Development
    • Optimized, Designed , built and tested a 1.5 kW modular motor controller.   
  • ARMY AMRDEC UAV Propulsion Motor Development
    • Optimized, designed, built and tested a 15 kW propulsion motor for a UAV system.
  • NASA 6 kW Hybrid Power Source Development
    • Optimized, designed, built and tested a 6 kW genset for a hybrid power source.
  • NASA Wide Temperature Range Motor
    • Optimized and designed a dual Halbach axial flux motor capable of performing in a wide range of temperatures.   
  • NASA Magnetic Gear Development
    • Optimized, designed, built and tested a 13 kW magnetic gear.   This represents a non-contact gear reduction that may solve the reliability issues with gear reduction. 
 
 
 
 
 

Come Visit LaunchPoint at AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2017

Posted on Sat, Mar 4, 2017
LaunchPoint Technologies will be attending AUVSI 2017. Please come visit us at booth 1907 where we'll be showcasing our advanced hybrid electric UAV power and propulsion systems.
 
 
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LaunchPoint's Current NASA and DoD Funded Research and Development Projects

Posted on Sat, Mar 4, 2017
LaunchPoint Technologies is continually developing advanced technologies in the field of hybrid electric aircraft power and propulsion systems. Here are some of our current NASA and DoD funded research and development projects: 
  • NAVY Electric Tail Rotor Development 
    • Optimized, Designed and in the process of building a system that will replace the drive shaft and gear box in a Bell 209 Helicopter.
  • NASA Hybrid VTOL Propulsion System 
    • Optimized, designed, built and are testing a small series hybrid multi-rotor (1.5 kW).
  • NASA Cryogenically Cooled Motor Development 
    • Redesigned, built and in process of testing a 6 kW motor that is fluid cooled using on board cryo-cooled fuels.  Providing increased efficiency of the motor as well as a consumable fuel for a hybrid power internal combustion engine.
  • NASA 40 kW Motor Controller 
    • Optimized, designed, built and are testing a SiC based motor controller.  
  • NASA 15 kW Motor Controller 
    • Project goal is to provide 20 SiC based motor controllers for use in a distributed electric propulsion test bed.
  • NASA Dynamometer System Development 
    • Designed and in the process of building a multi-channel dynamometer system to test distributed propulsion performance.
  • NASA Additive Motor Manufacturing 
    • Assist with motor design for advanced additive motor manufacturing processes.

LaunchPoint Designs Hybrid Propulsion System for VTOL Aircraft

Posted on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. recently completed a NASA Phase I SBIR* to investigate the design of a “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System for a 4-Passenger VTOL Aircraft”.  The advancement of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for rotorcrafts enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles to take advantage of aerodynamic efficiencies that can reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to conventional rotorcraft vehicles.

VTOL Distributed Electric PropulsionVTOL Distributed Electric Propulsion

Unlike conventional internal combustion engines, or high-speed turbine engines, the high power-to-weight ratio and energy efficiency of electric motors is conserved when the motor is scaled to a smaller size.  A distributed electric propulsion system for a VTOL aircraft can exploit aerodynamic benefits that increase the lift to drag ratio by 4- to 5-times that of conventional helicopters (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20140001088).  This yields a fourfold increase in range while maintaining the VTOL and hover capabilities of a conventional helicopter. 

Furthermore, the proposed hybrid electric propulsion system will increase the safety and reliability of the system, while reducing the operating costs compared to a conventional VTOL rotorcraft of a similar payload.  LaunchPoint surveyed concept aircraft designs like the tilt wing vehicle concept images below, and designed the hybrid propulsion system for these types of vehicles, along with all of the hybrid propulsion components, like motors, controllers, battery packs, and generators for the vehicle.  LaunchPoint Technologies applied redundancy management and fault isolation techniques originally developed for “Fly-By-Wire” systems to the design of the hybrid-electric propulsion system.  The result is a propulsion system that can be safer and more reliable than a conventional piston engine propulsion system.

LaunchPoint Technologies is seeking development partners who wish to license the architecture and technology; or who wish to fund the development of custom turn-key hybrid propulsion systems for aircraft.

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*NASA Phase I SBIR: NNX14CC48P titled “Hybrid Electric Propulsion System for a 4-Passenger VTOL Aircraft”

Topics: VTOL, electric propulsion, hybrid propulsion, distributed electric propulsion

LaunchPoint Develops High Specific Power Genset for UAVs

Posted on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

LaunchPoint GensetLightweight generators for airborne applications have received a lot of attention lately as the only feasible way to extend the range/duration of electrically-propelled air vehicles.  By integrating the LaunchPoint Dual Halbach Array technology into a small reciprocating engine, LaunchPoint Technologies has developed a high specific power range-extender genset for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.*

The genset weighs approximately 6kg and produces 6kW.  It can be gasoline-fueled or converted to heavy fuel by Greg Stevens Engineering (GSE), a collaborating company. The alternator and electronics have a chain efficiency of greater than 93% at operating conditions, and the integrated alternator can act as a starter motor for the engine as well. The system is still undergoing testing, but will be available for purchase soon.

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 *The genset was developed by LaunchPoint engineers under subcontract T13-6200-LAU from the National Institute of Aerospace as part NASA Prime contract NNL08AA00B.

 

Topics: engine-generator, UAV propulsion, genset

Dr. Brad Paden Elected ASME Fellow for Control Theory Contributions

Posted on Mon, Oct 6, 2014

Dr. Brad Paden, PhDBrad Paden, PhD, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board for LaunchPoint Technologies Inc., has been elected as a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).  Dr. Paden is recognized for his theoretical contributions in control including nonsmooth stability theory, inversion of nonlinear systems, and control of robot manipulators. He has also led major design projects including the mechatronic design of left-ventricular assist devices (a form of artificial heart). He has over 120 technical publications and 17 patents. Dr. Paden has been awarded the ASME DSCD Kalman Best Paper Award, the ASME DSCD Draper Innovative Practice Award and the IEEE Control Systems Society Technology Award. He is also an IEEE Fellow and AIMBE Fellow. Dr. Paden is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Topics: Announcements

New VVT Valve Actuator Cuts Power Consumption by More Than 50%

Posted on Thu, Jun 26, 2014

LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. (LaunchPoint) has recently completed testing a new version of its variable valve timing (VVT) electromechanical valve actuator (EVA) for internal combustion engines.  The new design reduces power consumption by more than 50% compared to the previous design and thus far has exceeded 1 million cycles of endurance testing.  Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a recently completed SBIR Phase II grant.  Additional funding was provided by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) as part of an SBIR Phase I grant.

VVT EVA systems can provide improvements in engine fuel-efficiency, torque, and emissions, but are not widely used because until now the technology has been too expensive and has not met automaker’s performance targets.  LaunchPoint’s electromechanical VVT system incorporates a novel energy storage mechanism that enables a reliable high performance and cost-effective actuator.  With the use of a microcontroller, the system is able to continuously and independently vary the valve duration and phase based on any operating conditions available to the controller such as engine speed and load.

LaunchPoint Gen II VVT Valve Actuator Prototype 6 26 2014 

Electromechanical Valve Actuator Prototype Fabricated for the Project

Two prototype actuators were designed and built for the NSF Phase II grant.  The actuators were tested on a lab bench and on a Rotax 500cc one-cylinder engine with a modified head.  Videos of valve implementation in lab bench and test-engine experiments were recorded to demonstrate operation.  In order to properly characterize the valve transitions, more than 500 datasets were recorded and processed to determine the switch times, landing velocities, and energy consumption (the switch time is defined using a standard industry definition of 0.7 mm – 0.7 mm; the time it takes to switch from within 0.7 mm of the open and closed positions).    By developing an online adaptive control strategy we were able to maintain repeatable and reliable system performance with the following specifications: 1.63 - 3.82 ms switch times with 0.01 - 0.07 m/s landing velocity and 1.33 – 3.15 J energy consumption per switch.  The precise system performance is dependent on the actuator configuration and how the control system is set up and tuned.  At 5000 RPM this corresponds to an average power consumption of 116 W when the system is tuned for minimum power.  Further improvements in performance to decrease the switch time, landing velocity, and switch energy will be realized with more controller development.

After the system performance was characterized, an endurance test was performed to evaluate the durability of the system.  After 1 million cycles – corresponding to 2 million engine revolutions – the system was still functioning well and had minimal signs of wear.  The durability target is to reach the equivalent of 500 to 600 million engine revolutions (250 to 300 million cycles) required for an automotive application.

Overall we achieved all of the proposed objectives and exceeded the performance goals of the Phase II grant.  Further testing is required to determine the variation in the system performance over the life of the mechanism, and the overall durability and fatigue life of the mechanical components.    LaunchPoint is currently seeking strategic partners and investors to bring this technology to market.

About LaunchPoint Technologies: 
LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. is an engineering services and design firm that specializes in technology and product development. We have extensive experience in motor/generator design and development, medical device design and development, and maglev technologies. Our staff includes product and system designers, physicists, and engineers from a wide array of disciplines. As 'Venture Engineers' we invest our engineering expertise in proof-of-concept modeling and prototype design, secure IP, and assist with grant-writing and/or venture capital solicitation. For more information, please visit our website at launchpnt.com, or call 805-683-9659805-683-9659, ext. 207.

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*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant IIP-1058556 and the United States Marine Corps under Grant M67854-14C-6525. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the United States Marine Corps.

Topics: valve actuator, electromechanical valve, high-speed actuators, variable valve timing