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Maglev Aero (HyperDrive Propulsion System)

Maglev Aero novel HyperDrive distributed electric propulsion (DEP) system for eVTOL aircraft

 

HyperDrive Propulsion System
Maglev Aero
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
www.maglevaero.com

Founded in 2018 by Rod Randall and Ian Randall (father and son) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Maglev Aero has surfaced from stealth mode on May 31, 2023. The company has revealed they are designing a groundbreaking an ultra-quiet propulsion system for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger and cargo aircraft to be used for advanced air mobility (AAM). The novel design uses magnetic levitation principles used in trains and a novel propeller system which combined promises eVTOL aircraft to have a high efficiency, a low noise signature and increased safety. According to several business websites, the company has already raised approximately $11.8 million USD as of June 2023.

Maglev Aero novel HyperDrive propulsion system
Maglev Aero's HyperDrive system consists of a many bladed annular rotors suspended, guided and rim-driven by a circular maglev system used for the propulsion of eVTOL passenger and cargo aircraft. The multiple thin swept blades are shaped to increase efficiency and reduce noise compared with conventional helicopter rotorblades. The HyperDrive can be fixed or tiltable with single or coaxial rim-driven rotors.

Performance and benefits of Maglev Aero's novel propulsion system

  • High performance
  • High efficiency
  • Low noise
  • Low vibration
  • Improved ride quality
  • Redundancy in all systems
  • Improved safety

HyperDrive system component details
Maglev Aero's HyperDrive uses only the most effective outer blade sections and has a much higher blade count that results in lower tip speeds. The blades are suspended, guided and rim-driven by a circular maglev system. In addition, both helicopter rotoblades and small propellers as seen on most eVTOL aircraft still have the load concentrated at the tips. By using the outer blade span, with a dramatically increased blade count, reduces the blade load and using a novel blade shape makes the propellers have no peaks.

This is distributed electric propulsion (DEP) but the propulsion is distributed circumferentially around the ring in a highly fault-tolerant manner and enables ultrahigh efficiency and ultralow noise. —Rod Randall

To minimize noise, the blades have a thin swept design which will have the least change in loading as it rotates, increased efficiency and reduced noise. The large-diameter, ultrahigh-solidity, ultralow rotor is where the blades can be lightly and uniformly loaded across their span and have a very small, unsteady loading as they rotate. In comparison, conventional helicopter rotorblades produce lift from a few blades with relatively high thickness, tip speed and blade loading. While rotorblades are long. most of the lift is generated on the outer spans.

Because we have so many more blades, we get the same lift at a much lower rpm, lower tip speeds which dramatically reduces the noise. —Ian Randall

How the aircraft is flown
Details of cyclic and collective pitch used to control  the aircraft have not been revealed but the company has stated they use a software defined swashplate. If there is a loss in one ore more inverters, it will not reduce the number of blades providing lift and control. If there is a total power failure, the aircraft can autorotate and land.

Expected test flights
The expected date to fly a subscale technology demonstrator estimated to be in 2025 or 2026.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL propulsion system
  • Propellers: The HyperDrive system consists of many bladed annular rotors suspended, guided and rim-driven by a circular maglev system
  • Number of electric motors: Unknown
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft. If there is a loss in one ore more inverters, it will not reduce the number of blades providing lift and control. If there is a total power failure, the aircraft can autorotate and land.

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