Start-Up Adds New Spin to a Drone’s Motor – Literally

Written by Betsy Lillian
on May 31, 2016 No Comments

A Silicon Valley start-up, CR Flight, has set out to revamp the electric motor and, in turn, bring greater efficiency to unmanned systems – especially the burgeoning commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.

The trademarked CR motor, currently under development by the Richmond, Calif.-headquartered company, can provide “basically an overall improvement in the performance of the drone,” Christopher Auger-Domínguez, director of marketing and product development, tells UAO.

Auger-Domínguez says CR Flight’s patented design is aimed at boosting the drone’s flight performance “across the board”: e.g., battery life, thrust, flight time, running temperature and payload capacity.

The secret? One motor is powering two propellers, which are both spinning in opposite directions.

CR_pancake_motor_assembly2_with_directionIn an electric motor, he explains, there’s a stator, and there’s a rotor. Typically, the stator acts as the post and remains stationary, while the rotor rotates around it – but not with the CR motor.

“The trick is to release that stator so that it’s not stationary and can rotate, as well,” he says. “So, you get the rotating rotor, but instead of the inside staying put, it actually rotates the opposite direction – which is counter to the force of the rotor, so you get two spinning pieces.”

According to Auger-Domínguez, because the parts take advantage of the motor’s natural counter-electromotive force, they can spin faster in comparison to a typical electric motor’s parts. Moreover, seeing as there are two propellers in motion, the thrust can be increased by nearly twice as much as that of a “standard single prop motor,” according to the company’s estimates.

In turn, higher thrust for less expended energy can mean a longer flight time and battery life, in addition to an increased payload capacity and cooler operating temperatures.

“The motor actually lasts longer because it runs cooler,” notes Auger-Domínguez. “There’s less wear on the motor itself.”

He says CR Flight is working with both motor companies and drone manufacturers and is actively seeking new collaborations in order to “pinpoint the best efficiency,” including the specific dimensions, of the to-be-released motor.

Although it’s suitable “pretty much anywhere there’s an electric motor and where efficiency is important,” he says, the start-up is zoned in on the ever-expanding commercial UAV space, where a business often relies on the performance of an aircraft.

After all, the desire for increased UAV performance is universal: Aerial cinematographers, utility inspectors and precision agriculturists alike aim for better flight efficiency – the goal of CR Flight’s system-agnostic technology, which the company says features a “plug ‘n’ play design” for easy replacement of a standard single prop motor.

In terms of unmanned aircraft type, “there’s no limit either big or small necessarily,” he says, “but the obvious cost benefit is going to be in that [commercial drone] zone.”

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