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Vertical Aerospace to develop eVTOL smart charger with Warwick University

Vertical Aerospace has secured funding from the U.K.’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) to create a smart charger for its eVTOL air taxis in partnership with Warwick University.

Vertical Aerospace VA-1X eVTOL
Vertical Aerospace aims to start initial commercial operations with its VA-1X air taxi by the end of 2024. Vertical Aerospace Image

The two-year, £2.3 million project is expected to improve the performance and safety of Vertical Aerospace’s recently unveiled VA-1X passenger-carrying aircraft. The charger will incorporate an a diagnostic device that will analyze in-flight and charge event data, yielding information that can be used to optimize battery life, schedule maintenance, detect anomalies and generate a pre-flight fitness report for the battery.

According to Limhi Somerville, head of energy storage at Vertical Aerospace, “Battery systems including charge and diagnostics testing are well-known in academia and industry, having undergone years of development and research for the automotive market. An aerospace application provides a fantastic opportunity to utilize methods, designs, models and algorithms that were not financially, volumetrically or technically feasible before. Using these novel approaches, we plan to significantly improve the safety, range and capability of our battery system.”

Technical experts from Warwick University will be researching the algorithms and models that are suitable for this application. Vertical Aerospace will then create charger hardware for testing on one or more of its aircraft.

“The successful integration and management of battery systems within future electric aircraft represents a significant research challenge and one that WMG [Warwick Manufacturing Group] is excited to be working on in partnership with Vertical Aerospace,” stated Professor James Marco in a press release. “This project will allow us to expand our capabilities in battery characterization, battery system modeling and novel methods of fault diagnosis and prognosis. All within a sector that is strategically important for the U.K. as it move towards its zero emissions transport targets.”

ATI is an organization creating the technology strategy for U.K. aerospace, providing a roadmap of the innovation necessary to keep the country competitive in the global aerospace market. It is funding research and development through a £3.9 billion joint government-industry program, and has a portfolio of over 250 projects so far.

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