• Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

Hybrid Electric Generator Systems for Drones


Jun 22, 2021

As the commercial and military drone industries grow and drone manufacturing matures, aerospace companies are developing products that will help extend the reach of unmanned vehicles.  CA-based aerospace startup LaunchPoint Electric Propulsion Solutions, Inc., has announced a new hybrid electric generator system that combines traditional fuel and electricity to increase flight endurance and allow drones to carry heavier payloads.
“Drones installed with the 5.5kW GenSet can travel farther and carry more load than those fitted with other hybrid power system models, expanding the possibilities for these types of aircraft,” says a LaunchPoint press release.
As drone delivery testing expands to BVLOS cargo delivery in low-risk industrial settings like pipeline management, the commercial benefits to hybrid electric generator systems – a less expensive and more environmentally friendly solution than gasoline powered engines and less problematic than hydrogen-fueled solutions which can require installation of hydrogen production equipment..

“The 5.5kW GenSet can be utilized in both military and commercial drones and is currently shipping to customers for applications ranging from global security to inspection and mapping to cargo delivery,” says the press release. “Demand is expected to continue to grow as the market for electricity-powered aircraft takes off.”
“We’re immensely proud of this groundbreaking system. Our master researchers and engineers have spent years optimizing and perfecting our hybrid-electric and electric flight systems, and this newest GenSet is a high point for us,” Chief Technology Officer Michael Ricci said. “We’re excited to get this out into the world and for LaunchPoint to continue fueling the growth of this burgeoning industry.”
In addition to its power and range, benefits of the 5.5kW hybrid power system include a battery management system (BMS), in-flight self-charging capability, and liquid-fuel-powered generator. Drone operators can switch between liquid fuel and electricity depending on power demands and have a dependable backup energy supply to complete a mission and land safely in the event that an aircraft runs out of fuel or, alternatively, if the batteries discharge too fully.
“Our patented technologies eliminate the risk of several conventional failure modes seen in electric power systems and provide multiple levels of redundancy,” said LaunchPoint’s Vice President of Business Development and Sales, Chris Grieco. “Our highly-intelligent control system actively monitors all aspects of operation during takeoff, hover and cruise flight and landing and responds as needed, assuring both optimal functionality and reliability through mission objectives. This will be seen in real time when the genset flies in drones this year for large, key government customers.”

This innovative technology is scalable and offers new opportunities for companies working to develop extended-flight, airborne transportation and cargo delivery systems for what is known as the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market.
Features of the HPS055 GenSet include:
5 kW continuous power/5.5 kW peak at 25 °C ambient and sea level conditions with fuel consumption of 810 g/kWh, self-cooled by air even in hover/zero airspeed conditions
7.5+ kW peak power when paired with a recommended 14s battery pack
Self-starting, in-flight GenSet shutdown and restart capacity
A LaunchPowerTM Power Management Unit (PMU) and Battery Management System (BMS) that enable system monitoring, protection, and power sharing between battery and GenSet to maximize system performance and energy resource utilization in adverse conditions (high-hot). The BMS also enables safe full-discharge and recharge of battery as part of mission profiles
Controller Area Network (CAN) communications for full system monitoring and control; Can also operate in “stand-alone” mode with only a simple on/off signal from flight controller
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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