As populations in megacities continue to grow, the increased urbanization and traffic situation is pushing ground transport systems to their limits. Bringing urban mobility to the third dimension offers the potential to create a faster, cleaner, safer, and more integrated transportation system. Autonomous aerial vehicles and flying cars are no longer science-fiction: Projects and trials are already taking place around the world. Major aviation and automotive manufacturers, city authorities and technology companies are working on innovative urban mobility solutions and so does FEV. For more than 40 years, FEV is offering cutting-edge engineering services for the automotive industry. We are now applying our vast automotive experience to offer innovative solutions for future urban air mobility.
Urban Air Mobility - A game changer for smart cities
Half of the world’s population already lives in cities, generating more than 80 percent of global GDP today. Without skillful planning and innovative, smart solutions, cities are risking diseconomies such as congestion and pollution, starting to outweigh scale benefits and leading to a deteriorating quality of life and a loss of economic dynamism. In the European Union, currently traffic congestion alone costs roughly €100 billion a year and is predicted to increase to roughly €300 billion per year by 2030. As a result, cities are demanding for efficient and effective mobility solutions. FEV believes that one solution lies in the third dimension – the sky – and it will revolutionize the way we will perceive mobility. We expect multiple use cases within UAM such as inter- and intracity transport of people and goods, special missions like air ambulance, emergency supply delivery, transport of organs or search and rescue support.
Integrated approach to develop
Urban Air Mobility
Developing a sustainable UAM requires an integrated approach based on the three main pillars: The Aerial Vehicle Technology, the UAM Infrastructure, and the Business Model to operate and finance it. All three elements are highly interconnected and must be closely aligned when specified.
Through its techno-strategic capabilities, FEV Consulting is the ideal partner to put the pieces of this complex puzzle together to enable a safe, convenient and economically viable urban air mobility service.
Introduction to eVTOLs
An eVTOL is an electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that can hover, take off, and land vertically. They replace a helicopter’s engine and rotors with a distributed electric propulsion (DEP) system, that turns smaller rotors. Today, we see three main concepts of eVTOLs with different characteristics and benefits depending on the targeted mission profile, e.g. for intra- vs. intercity mobility:
- Tilt-Thrust: Tilt of wings or rotors for lift and cruise
- Lift and Cruise: Independent propulsion used for lift and cruise
- Multirotor: Wingless with multiple fixed rotors for lift and cruise, tilt of airframe Compared to a traditional single main rotor helicopter with combustion engine, an eVTOL is significantly quieter, more reliable and safer and signifcantly less expensive.
Building Blocks of an eVTOL
Aerial Vehicles can differ inherently by concept with multiple technological options within their building blocks - as broken down as follows by FEV. For each of these building blocks, FEV supports the Aerial Vehicle development along all phases of the development process from target setting and requirement definition to verification and validation.
Electric Propulsion Development
VTOLs can be powered by different propulsion systems, ranging from hybrid (conventional combustion engine or gas turbine combined with e-motor) to fully electric powered solutions.
Future concepts could also consider fuel cells as the primary energy source. While the different propulsion concepts have different requirements for the infrastrucutre and landing locations, weight and volume of the propulsion are especially important for aerial vehicles.
FEV is working with leading electric motor suppliers and manufacturers, developing best-in-class power-to-weight electric propulsion systems.
We offer all capabilities necessary to perform complete design and development of electric propulsion. This includes CAE supported optimization of the electric motor, with a focus not only on functional aspects, but also on NVH considerations that are necessary to minimize the noise excitation and radiation of the harmonic orders.
Furthermore, we are operating dedicated e-motor test cells that enable rapid functional testing of the electric propulsion. E-motor control algorithm design, development and calibration are accomplished with automated testing and a battery emulation system.
Development of energy storage devices
For most mobility solutions, the energy storage device showcases the same key requirements: range, weight & cost. FEV is well-known for its capability to develop entire battery systems, including Battery Management Systems (BMS) and battery testing solutions. FEV offers its customers access to standard modules and its own Battery Module Unit (FEV LiiONMAN), but also offers flexible services for new product development. With regards to functional safety for aerospace applications, all of the required steps are taken from the technical specification through scheduling, completion, and documentation of validation activities as well as the review of safety-relevant parts from suppliers.
The Airspaceintegration and related communication between the aerial vehicle and its environment is mandatory for piloted or automated operation.
FEV is your partner to develop a secure bi-directional network communication. Our intelligent connection unit – abbreviated as iCU – is based on microservice architecture and processes data and information from all sorts of control units and sensors. The FEV iCU is capable of processing data from communication via shortrange as well as longrange standards.
Furthermore, FEV has built up specific capabilities covering various kinds of environmental sensors required for automated and autonomous operations to define the ego vehicle's position, perceive it's environment and to detect reliably ground-based and airborne hazards.
Besides ultrasonic and radar, LIDAR and camera systems need to be installed, demanding additional expertise in the areas of integration, control, and validation. FEV develops, tests, and validates hardware components and control software for smart vehicles at the request of its customers.
Cyber-security in all vehicles, on ground or in the air, and in the infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges.
FEV’s cyber security gateway concept can function either as a standalone or as an integrated solution that is connected to the vehicle communication bus to detect malicious activities and then prevent them from causing harm to the vehicle and/or its occupants. The gateway allows for a quick and targeted deployment by an OEM or a large fleet owner to protect their products.
Through a unique set of software functions and algorithms for Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) as well as specific vehicle adaptation and calibration, the gateway significantly reduces the cyber security risks faced by today’s connected vehicle.
FEV offers various capabilities that support the development of an effective cyber security system, beginning with security management. FEV supports its customers with threat and risk modeling services, including prioritized threat and incidence response analysis and real time intrusion detection.
Development of safe software for aerial vehicles
In addition to being secure against malicious attacks, one key requirement is to have a safe software library as a backbone of your technology and infrastructure operations center.
For mission and safety-critical software, embedded programming – the quality of software defines your success. etamax space GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the FEV Group, can support with professional test management adapted to your needs, and with standard-compliant programming of your software for acceptance- and certification processes.
Targeted, tool-assisted requirements engineering, as well as a standardized configuration management, are core features of efficient, successful software engineering and this is why they are a part of our remit. The independent software verification and validation consistently applies internationally-recognized standards (e.g. ECSS, DO178C, EN 50128).
As vertical take-off and landing aircrafts are in very early development stages and only few prototypes exist as, hardware benchmarking is yet not possible. However, we have established an extensive aerial vehicle database containing 80+ aircraft concepts from approximately 60 different Aerial Vehicle manufacturers. This database includes information such as dimensions, weight / payload, range, speed and propulsion.
In addition, FEV has been performing extensive benchmarking for more than 20 years. With this extensive experience as background, we are also now applying our well-proven tools and methodologies for VTOLs.
UAM Infrastructure and Vertiport Design
Setting up a suitable UAM infrastructure is a major challenge for any city.
Due to its nature of picking up passengers or dropping them off in closely congested city districts, “vertiports" must be integrated into an existing city infrastructure and architecture, ensuring a fast but also secure boarding and deboarding.
For a seamless journey, the vertiports need to be linked to other mobility solutions such as metro or first- & last-mile transportation.
In addition, the vertiport design must be developed in close alignment to the aircraft as various aspects are impacted, e.g. landing platform dimensions or operational requirements such as charging equipment. FEV has gained firsthand experience in the field of infrastructure requirements definition for eVTOL aircrafts by collaborating with key players in the field of civil engineering and city planning.
Interested? Please contact us!
FEV Consulting GmbH