We started looking at the nuts and bolts of this initiative more than two years ago. It began with discussion between Prof Richard Brown, an aerodynamicist and aeronautical engineering specialist, and Eben Wilson, an economist and industrialist working in data telematics. They became convinced that the engineering and electronic issues could be tackled while the commercial opportunities for a mid-mass unmanned vehicle could be found.
A mathematical design exercise followed, based on key constraint that we wanted our vehicle to be electrically powered. We got it wrong, twice. Our first attempt was a barn door with lots of lift and too much drag. Our second attempt had a wingspan of an albatross when what we wanted was a sparrow. On our third attempt, we ran calculations across three hot computers at once and came up with the present design.
This wasn’t easy, electric flight vehicles are on the frontier of innovation; mass and energy are major constraints. But then we hunted down the best of the best in battery technology and electric machines; they understood the challenge immediately and grasped it with enthusiasm.
Today, we have a small core team capable of innovating in each of our subsystem areas. It is important to remember that half of what has to be achieved is in electronic systems in addition to the other half in aerodynamic engineering.
Enthusiasm and excitement at the initiative has been a hallmark of our journey so far. We are astonished by how many people just love pushing forward possibilities in the world of flight and electronics.
A central part of the initiative is to engage with others who are just as enthusiastic and will help us promote entrepreneurial insight in technology.