How will you make a battery fly? 

How will you make a battery fly? 


The basics of any drone are literally fairly easy. You want a motor (with a propeller) and also you want an power supply to energy that motor. That’s it. 

Illustration Courtesy of Modovolo

That is utilizing first rules pondering, a way popularized and utilized by Elon Musk in all his firms, most notably SpaceX and Tesla. For instance, Elon has defined that within the early 2000s, everybody stated that electrical automobiles would all the time be impractical as a result of the batteries had been too costly (which might in flip make the automotive too costly). 

However Elon utilized first rules pondering and realized that the supplies utilized in a battery are very cheap, which in flip meant that it was simply an engineering and manufacturing problem to make cheap batteries. One other mind-set of it’s, if a battery prices $139 per kilowatt hour, then the supplies are about $20 of that and the remainder is the price of manufacturing. And in case you are intelligent, you may drive down your manufacturing prices.   

Erik, CTO, and Justin, CEO, co-founders of Modovolo utilized the identical sort of pondering to drones which led to some revelations.  

“First-principles pondering actually forces you to have a look at the issue from a special perspective. As an alternative of pondering: how do I optimize the present fixed-hub drone design, you ask a special query: What are the basics right here? What are the core capabilities wanted to fly? And that results in the first-principles query: how are you going to make a battery fly?” explains Erik. 

Justin commented, “A killer drone design should amplify the basic parts of the motor and power supply. These are the basic parts of flight.”  

Erik continues, “But the battery is the important thing to all of it. Motors are gentle, however batteries are one of many heaviest parts of a drone. Typically they’re even heavier than the payload itself. Weight is the most important consider flight time. So the trick is to extend the battery capability however on the identical time restrict the necessity for them.” 

This is similar sort of tradeoff and virtuous loop that Elon Musk and his workforce at SpaceX confronted. Each ounce of weight saved within the development of the rocket means much less gas, which suggests you want much less infrastructure to carry the gas, which in flip means you should use much less gas. 

If they might determine learn how to reduce the burden of the drone utilizing the fewest variety of batteries and restrict the infrastructure to carry the propeller, batteries, and cost, then Erik and Justin reasoned, they might make a cheap drone that might fly for hours with any type of payload. 

“That’s what the tip aim has all the time been: utilizing first rules pondering to design and construct a drone that had superb flight time and is orders of magnitude cheaper than something available on the market,” Justin says. 

Erik explains, “As a result of the battery is essential, it is advisable reduce all the opposite parts. The construction holding the batteries, the propellers, and the touchdown gear. All of that stuff is vital however none of that construction makes the drone fly. It’s simply lifeless weight.” 

That is the half in films the place there are a couple of minutes of montage video exhibiting conferences, perhaps a couple of lengthy nights, a fast revelation, and the inventor ending the prototype. The truth is sort of completely different. It’s years of labor and the occasional gentle bulb second.  It jogs my memory of Thomas Edison’s previous adage: “Genius is one % inspiration and ninety-nine % perspiration.”

“It took us 2 ½ years of continually banging our heads on the wall attempting to make this work. Dozens of prototypes and 1000’s of hours of iterations and testing – and lots of lifeless ends,” says Erik. 

However the light-bulb second did occur. 

Erik explains, “Sure, the light-bulb second was once we realized that the bicycle wheel was the right construction for a drone. It’s gentle, robust, and rugged.  It’s an underappreciated technological marvel. And it signifies that the Modovolo Carry is approach lighter than any business drone. And greatest but nobody had ever thought to make use of it in aerospace” 

Picture Courtesy of Modovolo

Justin continues, “The bicycle-wheel-inspired Carry Pod additionally has this superb functionality that nobody else within the drone trade has. It’s modular and endlessly configurable. As an alternative of shopping for a brand new drone for every software, you may join Carry Pods with Utility Pods to create the drone you want. Have a heavier payload? Merely add extra Carry Pods to get extra thrust and flight time.” 

So after 2 ½ years of improvement (and submitting a bunch of patents), what’s the subsequent step within the Modovolo story?  

“We’re within the means of getting our first manufacturing manufacturing cell arrange and we’re providing a restricted run of 200 pre-orders. These clients will get assured manufacturing precedence, particular entry to our engineering workforce, a restricted version modovolo t-shirt, and get to direct what sorts of Utility Pods we’ll construct first.” Justin states.

You possibly can go to modovolo.com to be taught extra and get your pre-order at this time.

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