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CycloTech Bumble Bee (technology demonstrator)

CycloTech Bumblee Bee 1.0 technology demonstrator and Bumblee Bee 2.0 technology demonstrators in flight

 

Bumble Bee (technology demonstrator)
CycloTech GmbH
Linz, Austria
www.cyclotech.at

CycloTech GmbH was founded in 2004 in Austria (originally as IAT 21) and has been to date, actively pursuing research and development, manufacturing and testing their CycloRotor technology. The company's core business is the development and optimization of CycloRotors for the propulsion of hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) or electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger and air cargo aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM). According to one website, the company has as least six patents as of October 2023. While the company has already has had investments from Breeze Invest, the company is seeking more financial investors. The company is the leading developer of cyclorgyro technology. (Image credit: CycloTech)

CyclorRotor
The CycloRotor is a series of propeller blades mounted on both ends to rotating disks, forming what could be called a bladed cylinder. The unique ability of the blades is they are similar to how most helicopter rotorblades work, each propeller can continuously change its angle or pitch. The blades will tilt gradually into the wind and as they reach a certain point in their rotation, they will gradually tilt back to flat as they pass the peak point. The core of the drive concept was established by Ernst Schneider and the Voith GmbH technology group nearly 100 years ago, and patented as the Voith Schneider Propeller (VSP).

When CycloRotors are placed perpendicularly and vertically to the fuselage of an aircraft, the CycloRotors enable high-precision flight in all directions (or superior maneuverability) as well as mid-air braking even in gusty wind conditions. This means the aircraft has has 360° thrust vectoring capability. The means the aircraft now has the ability to instantaneously and precisely move the aircraft in any direction. This ability allows for an easy and smooth transition from VTOL to forward flight. It is possible to keep the aircraft fuselage at any angle, independent from the flight direction. This is called decoupling of the flight path and the vehicle attitude. The propulsion system is ideal for safe operation in crowed airspace and confined areas. This is all accomplished without tilting or banking the aircraft. When there are six CycloRotors on an aircraft, they provide a high level of redundancy, allowing to pilot to fly and land safely, even if one or two CycloRotors fail to work.

Benefits of CycloRotors

  • The aircraft has 360° thrust vectoring capability. The means the aircraft has the ability to instantaneously and precisely move the aircraft in any direction.
  • Superior maneuverability in any wind condition including gusty wind conditions
  • Easy transition from VTOL to forward flight and back
  • It is possible to keep the aircraft fuselage at any angle, independent from the flight direction.
  • Allows the aircraft to have a small footprint
  • The VTOL aircraft can fly in confined areas
  • Provides a comfortable ride for the pilot and passengers because the CycloRotors can maneuver the fuselage in any position while in flight
  • CycloRotors are very reliable and have a long service life
  • CycloRotor technology reduces the cost of the aircraft and maintenance costs

Bumble Bee 1.0 and Bumble Bee 2.0 uncrewed eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft
The Bumble Bee is a remote controlled uncrewed eVTOL technology demonstrator using CyclorRotors for propulsion. Each technology demonstrator has four CyclorRotors, four electric motors and uses batteries as the power source of the aircraft. The CycloRotors turn at 3,100 rpm and have a maximum thrust of 247 N (56 lb). The aircraft can also be fitted with a hybrid-electric power source if needed. Over three years (2017-2020), CycloTech developed and tested nine different rotor prototypes. However, as far we can gather due to online articles, the company has specifically named two technologies demonstrators Bumble Bee 1.0 and Bumble Bee 2.0.

In September 2020, CycloTech reported the current CycloRotors had been "fully lightweight optimized and have passed all performance and endurance tests. They are ready for integration into a flight demonstrator." The first indoor tethered flight with Bumble Bee 1.0 took place on August 20, 2021. The first untethered outdoor flight of the Bumble Bee 2.0 took place on August 30, 2023 at the Linz airfield in Austria.

Bumble Bee 1.0 uncrewed eVTOL technology demonstrator
As far as we know, the company as providing little specifications for the Bumble Bee 1.0 technology demonstrator. While the cruise speed is unknown, the company as revealed the empty weight of the aircraft is 83 kg (183 lb). The maximum thrust of the aircraft is 247 N (56 lb) with the CycloRotor having 3,100 rpm. The aircraft has fixed skid landing gear.

Bumble Bee 2.0 uncrewed eVTOL technology demonstrator
We have less specifications from the company for the Bumble Bee 2.0 technology demonstrator. The cruise speed, range and flight time is unknown. Each CycloRotor generates a sound pressure level of 59 dBA at a distance of 100 meters which is equivalent to the level of a typical conversation between two people. The aircraft has fixed skid landing gear.

The fuselage for both technology demonstrators is almost rectangular in shape and is painted black. Some of the components on the aircraft are painted bright fire engine red. The CycloRotors are positioned on the four corners of the aircraft. The aircraft has fixed skid landing gear, very similar to a helicopter's fixed skid landing gear.

The company boasts it has the largest database and broadest experience in the field of cyclogyro technology in the world. The company has stated their comprehensive wind tunnel tests show a significant performance increase in forward flight which was also predicted in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations.

CycloTech
CycloTech develops aircraft configurations together with partners from the aviation, automotive and logistics industry. Their partners define the configuration and CycloTech contributes to the propulsion technology. CycloTech offers access to its patented technology through license agreements and payment of royalties.

Bumble Bee 1.0 side view

Bumble Bee 1.0 side view

Bumble Bee 1.0 rear view

Bumble Bee 1.0 rear view

Bumble Bee 1.0 front view

Bumble Bee 1.0 front view

Bumble Bee 1.0 top view

Bumble Bee 1.0 top view

CycloRotor mounted to an aircraft

CycloRotor mounted to an aircraft

Bumble Bee 2.0 during a test flight

Bumble Bee 2.0 during a test flight

Bumble Bee 1.0 Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Uncrewed eVTOL CyclorRotor technology demonstrator
  • Piloting: Remote piloting
  • Capacity: No passengers
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Empty weight: 83 kg (183 lb)
  • Propellers: 4 CycloRotors
  • Electric motors: 4 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries (can be powered by a hybrid-electric power source)
  • Maximum thrust: 247 N (56 lb)
  • Rotation: 3,100 rpm
  • Fuselage: Unknown
  • Landing gear: Fixed skid landing gear

Bumble Bee 2.0 Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Uncrewed eVTOL CyclorRotor technology demonstrator
  • Piloting: Remote piloting
  • Capacity: No passengers
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Empty weight: Unknown
  • Propellers: 4 CycloRotors
  • Electric motors: 4 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries (can be powered by a hybrid-electric power source)
  • Sound: Each CycloRotor generates a sound pressure level of 59 dBA at a distance of 100 meters which is equivalent to the level of a typical conversation between two people
  • Fuselage: Unknown
  • Landing gear: Fixed skid landing gear

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