Potentially unlimited range for UAVs and flying cars:
Another barrier to the commercial development of UAVs and (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and flying cars has been breached with the announcement of the Neva Aerospace SpaceBridge™ concept.
SpaceBridge networks for "Charging and re-provisioning station for electric and hybrid unmanned aerial vehicles" (patent protected), would provide the power platform for wide area operations of aerial electric vehicles, manned (flying cars) or unmanned (drones).
Neva Aerospace has developed underlying propulsion technology that will allow for longer distance, heavier-duty electrical VTOL craft and it already markets modular turbo-drones™ and OEM turbo-fans optimised for VTOL and STOL. Now it has also addressed the key challenge of flight duration with the technologically-viable idea of SpaceBridge recharging stations.
The core concept:
SpaceBridge is conceived as an infrastructure network of specialised docking stations catering for manned and unmanned electric aerial vehicles, and will serve any make of aerial vehicle. The concept is patent protected.
Stations will be deployed in a variety of locations such as cities or along trajectories connecting cities. Unmanned (UAV) and manned (MAV) aerial vehicles, including Neva’s existing Eole modular drones or future AirQuadOne and AirCab4, will be able to land automatically on Spacebridge docking stations, where battery packs are rapidly swapped before the aircraft continues its journey.
Current battery technology limits the practical flight time of, for instance, a compact 4-person all-electric VTOL aerial vehicle to around twenty minutes with reserves. Whilst this flight time can certainly be improved by making the vehicle larger and lighter, engineers ae well aware that performance in terms of speed, flight agility, flight stability and practicality suffers greatly.
The SpaceBridge concept solves this problem by allowing an aircraft to land automatically at intermediate locations along its journey path; at these locations (the SpaceBridge stations) the vehicle’s battery would be changed automatically (typically within thirty seconds to one minute) before resuming its journey. If the practical range of a given all electric air-taxi is around 30kms with reserves, laying out six SpaceBridge stations at a 30km spacing enables you cheaply, rapidly and easily to connect two cities 150kms apart. Spacebridge stations may also be scattered around a city forming the basis for a clean efficient aerial transport network.
Hubs can be integrated into current airports or built on city rooftops. Each hub may provide multiple docking bays, air-bridges and lounges where passengers can embark and disembark. More simple Spacebridge stations (where passengers do not alight, such as would be used to assure intercity transport) consist of a single docking station typically mounted on a tall concrete pylon.
Up until now however, the great problem with suitable electric vehicles has been the intrinsically small flight time. SpaceBridge solves this issue both for inter-city and intra-city transport for countries and municipalities cautious of their resources and environmental impacts.
Powering smaller drones:
Neva also envisages the sustainable SpaceBridge concept being applied to many other fields. For example coastal or border surveillance and rescue is often required over great distances and yet even small electric drones cannot fly these distances. Low-cost SpaceBridge recharging stations, coupled for example to solar panels, could solve this problem. Other major applications that the company sees are in agriculture and parcel delivery.