Gatineau-based Tyto Robotics received a significant contribution from the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec (CRIAQ) in order to develop test equipment for large propulsion systems. The $400,000 grant will fund the R&D portion of the project, which they are completing in collaboration with Mejzlik Propellers of Czechia and l’Université de Sherbrooke of Quebec.
The full title of the project, “Research and development of an electrical propulsion system, including a reliable propeller, a thrust stand, and an AI model to analyze performance data, for heavy-duty cargo UAVs or eVTOL”, outlines the scope of the work to be done. Tyto Robotics will design a thrust stand capable of testing motors for large cargo drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, up to 500 kgf of thrust and 320 kW of power.Together, Tyto Robotics and Mejzlik Propellers will perform tests on powertrain components used on eVTOL to study how factors like motor Kv, voltage, and propeller finish affect overall performance and reliability.
Image: Engineers from Tyto Robotics and Mejzlik Propellers at Mejzlik’s facility in Czechia (from left to right: Erwan Labadie, Baiyun Tang, Jan Dziubek, Jan Hubáček, Tomáš Hájek)
Concurrently, the team at l’Université of Sherbrooke will design an AI model capable of predicting a propulsion system’s performance based on machine learning from data generated by the physical tests.
The goal of the project is to develop test equipment that can be used by manufacturers in the heavy-lift cargo drone and eVTOL industries. One of the major barriers to the widespread adoption of eVTOL as a mode of transportation is the low flight time of aircraft, caused in part by limited battery capacity and unoptimized propulsion systems.
Another barrier is the uncertainty surrounding reliability, as one of the key factors required to make eVTOL commercially viable is to have reliable powertrain components that prevent mid-air failure.
The test equipment developed during this project will allow eVTOL manufacturers to test their propulsion systems and find the most efficient combination of motors, propellers and electronics. This will get them one step closer to having a commercially available solution in the air.