Relocating parts of urban traffic into the air is not a dream for the future any longer. Within the ALBACOPTER® Lighthouse Project led by Fraunhofer IVI, an airborne experimental platform will be developed and approved for testing and demonstration flights that combines the VTOL capabilities of multicopters with the aerodynamic advantages of gliders. The ambitious project will incorporate six Fraunhofer Institutes' expertise and technologies from the fields of mobility, materials science, energy and propulsion engineering, mechatronics, as well as sensor, communication and automation technology, artificial intelligence and production engineering.
Due to the diversity of missions, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is faced with a large number of demands in terms of aircraft engineering and systems technology. For example, while building multicopter solutions that are safe and low-noise is possible, they require extremely high drive power during hovering. VTOL multicopters, which fulfill the criteria for environmental sustainability, flight safety, as well as taking off and landing agility, but their range and payload capacity are limited due to their batteries' low energy storage densities.
Winged aircraft have considerably smaller energy footprints. However, they are restricted in urban space because of their take-off and landing requirements. In addition, the range of UAM aircraft systems' mission profiles is very broad in terms of transport capacity, required range, and speed. With a view to efficiency and sustainability, modular and scalable system solutions similar to platform strategies employed in the automotive sector are of special interest in this context.
ALBACOPTER consortium answers the resulting complexity by pooling competencies in the areas of mechanical/mechatronic structural and systems technology, design and manufacturing processes, sensor technology, control technology, data processing and artificial intelligence, which are distributed over several institutes. The common aim in creating the ALBACOPTER concept is to develop innovative technological approaches that combine the advantages of agile multicopters with the efficiency of gliding aircraft, and to prove their scalability. The ALBACOPTER is intended to become an experimental platform for validating and demonstrating innovations.
The work carried out within the Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project focuses on topics such as