What is an ion propulsion drone?


Silent Ventus

Undefined Technologies proves the viability of Silent Drone Technology [VIDEO].

Florida-based startup Undefined Technologies has announced that its Silent Ventus ion-propelled eVTOL drone has passed an essential test flight.

The aircraft met its projected flight time and lift power and displayed flight performance over the course of the 4-1/2 minute flight, demonstrating higher efficiency power delivery systems and noise levels below 75 dB.

“We have been on this upward trajectory for almost a full year, working hard to overcome many technical challenges related to aircraft cooling systems, battery life, avionics, and noise reduction technologies,” said the founder and CEO of Undefined Technologies, Tomas Pribanic.

“This milestone secures our vision of making ion propulsion technology viable for use in atmospheric conditions. I am incredibly proud of our highly dedicated team who have been relentless in taking our advancement to the next phase of development. “

By the end of 2023, Undefined Technologies intends to achieve flight times of 15 minutes with noise levels below 70 dB, in line with noise restrictions for the last-mile cargo delivery sector. The company has continuously adhered to a strict vertical integration model, designing and manufacturing its components in-house to accelerate development, safeguard its intellectual property, and reduce supply chain disruptions.

“This 4+ minute flight required advances in battery chemistry that can now provide us with higher energy densities,” said Undefined Technologies Lead Aerospace Engineer Thomas Benda Jr. “This improvement is part of our efforts to target lighter weights.”

Silent Ventus’ “Ion Booster” creates a cloud of ions that surrounds the ship, resulting in thrust levels increased by 150% compared to current ion booster technologies. The thrust generated by the Ion Booster opens the door for this technology to serve as a viable option for electric propulsion.

Ion propulsion is a method of propulsion that uses electrical rather than chemical forces to generate thrust for a ship. Although less powerful than chemical engines, ion propulsion engines are more efficient and can be used continuously for long periods of time, making them ideal for deep space missions. The concept of ion propulsion has been around for many years, but only recently have spacecraft powered by ion engines been put into flight.

Ion propulsion works by harnessing the very strong repulsive force between two objects with the same electrical charge. A cathode emits a stream of electrons that collides with neutral atoms of xenon, a gaseous element, in a chamber. The collisions strip xenon atoms of one or more electrons, turning these atoms into positively charged ions.

The xenon ions travel to a pair of grids, one positively charged and one negatively charged, at the rear of the chamber. Once the ions are between the grids, the positively charged grid’s repulsive force accelerates them out of the chamber at speeds of up to 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) per second.

Once the xenon ions are free from the engine, another cathode shoots electrons at them to neutralize them and prevent them from being drawn into the engine. A variation of this design, called a “Hall-effect thruster,” uses a combination of electric and magnetic fields to accelerate the ions.

Undefined Technologies has previously demonstrated that it has the infrastructure and talent to bring eVTOL aircraft to commercialization for civil and military applications. The company seeks to create a production-ready series drone in 2024. As a result of strong interest from federal and commercial entities, Undefined Technologies is positioned to announce a new funding round.

Recently, the company has demonstrated its all-electric drone at a variety of UAV and urban mobility exhibitions, such as Manifest 2022, CoMotion Miami 2022, Commercial UAV Expo Americas, and AUVSI XPONENTIAL, where it generated significant interest from delivery companies. the largest drones in the private sector.

American rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard first proposed ion propulsion in 1906. Research began in earnest in the 1950s, and the first suborbital flight tests of ion engines were conducted in 1964. Although American interest in ion propulsion waned in the late 1960s, the Soviet Union continued to work in this area, flying Hall-effect thrusters on various spacecraft in Earth orbit.

These thrusters allowed the spacecraft to modify their orbits with less propellant than was the case with chemical engines. In the 1990s, the American satellite manufacturer Hughes began including ion thrusters in communications satellites, allowing them to stay in the proper orbit.

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