Home / Machines / Electric Drones:Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025

Electric Drones:Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025

Published: Mar 2015 | No Of Pages: 199 | Published By: IDTechEx
Thousands of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will be deployed in the next few years for both civil and military missions. Early adoption of new technologies will be employed: from smart skin to structural components and intelligent motors with integral gearing.
 
Electric power makes the use of wheel power for take-off possible because electric motors can give maximum torque from stationary. It gives us near silent operation, in the air and on the ground, with virtually no noise or gaseous emissions, something valued in both military and civil applications. For long range UAVs where batteries are inadequate and hybrid powertrains are necessary, there can still be silent take-off and landing.
 
Only electrics can give us new forms of UAV; intelligently swarming robot flies being just one example of new missions made possible by electric power in UAVs.
 
There is work on unmanned aircraft harvesting power from winds at altitude using kites and beaming it to earth. No, this does not break the laws of physics. Other UAVs are held aloft by lasers and one other project will result in upper atmosphere UAVs that stay aloft for five years just on sunshine.  
 
There is a concept of a military UAV, maybe hybrid electric, which performs its mission then dives like a gannet and hides underwater. Vertical take-off and landing UAVs are now commonplace, the best known being toys that can be programmed in a desired pattern of flight but there are also military and professional civil versions being deployed.
 
This unique report examines what will be achieved and the enabling technologies that will make it possible. The PhD level analysts at IDTechEx have been studying the subject for many years and initially they encompassed much of this analysis in a popular report on electric aircraft of all sorts. However, there is now so much happening in UAVs alone that this report has been prepared to focus on UAVs alone. No other report is as up-to-date and insightful about this subject.
1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 
1.1. Definition 
1.2. Types 
1.3. Global electric UAV market, number, unit value, market value 2015-2025 
1.4. Electric vs non-electric UAVs 2015-2025 
1.5. Benefits and issues 
1.6. Applications 2014-5 
1.7. Professional benefits 
1.7.1. Most successful pure electric UAV 
1.7.2. All parts subject to disruptive change 
1.8. Agricultural uses multiply in 2014-5 
1.9. Border surveillance 
1.10. Competition for drones 
1.11. Autonomy and technology 
1.12. Benefits and paybacks 
1.13. Effect of 2015 Oil Price Collapse on Electric Vehicles 
 
2. INTRODUCTION 
2.1. Definitions and scope 
2.2. Needs 
2.3. Impediments 
2.4. Benchmarking best practice with land and seagoing EVs 
2.5. Quadcopter specifications 
 
3. TECHNOLOGIES 
3.1. Powertrains 
3.1.1. Pure electric vs hybrid 
3.1.2. Convergence 
3.1.3. Options 
3.1.4. Hybrid UAVs 
3.1.5. Range extenders 
3.1.6. Superconducting motor with range extender 
3.2. Electric traction motors 
3.2.1. Quadcopter drone motors and controls 
3.2.2. Traction motors for land, water and air vehicles 
3.3. Shape of motors 
3.4. Location of motors 
3.5. Traction motor technology preference 
3.6. Three ways that traction motors makers race to escape rare earths 
3.6.1. Synchronous motors with new magnets 
3.6.2. Asynchronous motors 
3.6.3. More to come 
3.7. Implications for electric aircraft 
3.8. Batteries 
3.8.1. Battery history 
3.8.2. Analogy to a container of liquid 
3.8.3. Construction of a battery 
3.8.4. Many shapes of battery 
3.8.5. Trend to laminar and conformal traction batteries 
3.8.6. Aurora laminar batteries in aircraft. 
3.8.7. Choices of chemistry and assembly 
3.8.8. Lithium winners today and soon 
3.8.9. Lithium polymer electrolyte now important 
3.8.10. Winning chemistry 
3.8.11. Winning lithium traction battery manufacturers 
3.8.12. Making lithium batteries safe 
3.8.13. Boeing Dreamliner: Implications for electric aircraft 
3.9. Fuel cells 
3.9.1. Slow progress with fuel cells 
3.9.2. Aerospace and aviation applications 
3.9.3. AeroVironment USA 
3.9.4. Boeing Europe 
3.9.5. ENFICA Italy and UK 
3.9.6. Pipistrel Slovenia 
3.9.7. University of Stuttgart Germany 
3.10. Energy harvesting 
3.10.1. Multiple forms of energy to be managed 
3.10.2. Photovoltaics 
3.10.3. École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland 
3.10.4. ETH Zurich Switzerland 
3.10.5. Green Pioneer China 
3.10.6. Gossamer Penguin USA 
3.10.7. Nephelios France 
3.10.8. Silent Falcon™ UAS Technologies 
3.10.9. Soaring China 
3.10.10. Solair Germany 
3.10.11. Sunseeker USA 
3.10.12. University of Applied Sciences Schwabisch Gmünd Germany 
3.10.13. US Air Force 
3.10.14. Northrop Grumman USA 
3.11. Other energy harvesting 
3.12. Regenerative soaring 
3.13. Biomimetic aircraft snatch and export power? 
3.13.1. IFO-Energy Unlimited in Hungary 
3.13.2. Copy the birds 
3.13.3. How to capture the wind? 
3.13.4. Valid physics 
3.13.5. How to maintain altitude? 
3.13.6. Storage of energy is more challenging 
3.13.7. Onboard superconducting technology? 
3.13.8. Flywheels and EV technologies? 
3.13.9. Soaring airliners? 
3.14. Power beaming 
3.15. Hybrid powertrains in action 
3.15.1. Multifuel and monoblock engines 
3.15.2. Beyond Aviation: formerly Bye Energy USA, France 
3.15.3. Flight Design Germany 
3.15.4. Lotus UK 
3.15.5. Microturbines - Bladon Jets, Capstone, ETV Motors, Atria 
3.16. Hybrid aircraft projects 
3.16.1. Delta Airlines USA 
3.16.2. DLR Germany 
3.16.3. EADS Germany 
3.16.4. Flight Design Germany 
3.16.5. GSE USA 
3.16.6. Krossblade USA
3.16.7. Ricardo UK 
3.16.8. Turtle Airships Spain 
3.16.9. University of Bristol UK
3.16.10. University of Colorado USA 
3.17. Rethinking the structural design 
 
4. SMALL UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES AND OTHER EXOTICA 
4.1. SUAV 
4.1.1. Airbus becomes a quadcopter user in 2014 
4.1.2. In 2014: UAR Postal, DJI Innovations, Estes, ISQ, Scan Eagle 
4.1.3. Aurora Skate UAV wins border protection award 
4.1.4. AeroVironment small UAVs 
4.1.5. Hirobo Japan 
4.1.6. Rotomotion 
4.1.7. Robot insects 
4.1.8. Reconnaissance bugs and bats
4.1.9. Nano air vehicle 
4.1.10. Lite Machines Corporation USA 
4.1.11. NRL launch an unmanned aerial vehicle from a submerged submarine 
4.1.12. University of Arizona 
4.1.13. Vienna University of Technology 
4.2. Large electrical UAVs 
4.2.1. VESPAS Europe 
4.2.2. AeroVironment Helios and Global Observer 
4.2.3. AeroVironment/ NASA USA 
4.2.4. Airbus HAPS solar plane 
4.2.5. Boeing and Versa USA, QinetiQ & Newcastle University UK 
4.2.6. Japanese solar sail to Venus 
4.2.7. QinetiQ UK 
4.2.8. Solar Flight USA 
4.3. New uses of small UAVs 2014-5 
4.3.1. Mini helicopters tracking weeds 
4.3.2. Drones to better understand how diseases spread 
4.3.3. Drones used to monitor behaviour of killer whales 
4.3.4. NMSU tests unmanned aircraft over active mine 
 
5. UAV DEPLOYMENT 
5.1. AeroVironment / CybAero USA, Sweden 
5.2. Flight of the Century USA 
5.3. NASA testing electric propulsion 
5.4. Windward Performance USA
1.1. Types of UAV. Those mainly remote controlled in green, mainly autonomous in red 
1.2. Global electric UAV market, number million 2015-2025. Those categories with over 90% of the UAVs having cameras are shown in blue. 
1.3. Global electric UAV market $ ex-factory unit value 2015-2025 
1.4. Global electric UAV market value $ billion 2015-2025 with assumptions 
1.5. Value of global electric, non-electric and total UAV market 2015-2025 
1.6. Examples of civil drone applications 2014-5 
2.1. Some DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter specifications
3.1. Electric vehicle drivetrain options, with those most adopted and prioritised for the future shown shaded 
3.2. Summary of preferences of traction motor technology for vehicles 
3.3. Advantages vs disadvantages of brushed vs brushless vehicle traction motors for today's vehicles 
3.4. Most likely winners and losers in the next decade 
3.5. Supplier numbers listed by continent 
3.6. Traction motor supplier numbers listed by country in alphabetical order 
3.7. Applications targeted by our sample of motor suppliers vs market split, listed in order of 2012 market size 
3.8. Suppliers of vehicle traction motors - split between number offering asynchronous, synchronous and both, where identified 
3.9. Suppliers offering brushed, brushless and both types of synchronous motors, where identified 
3.10. Distribution of vehicle sample by applicational sector 
3.11. Vehicles with asynchronous, synchronous or both options by category in number and percentage of category, listed in order of declining asynchronous percentage 3.12. 212 electric vehicle models analysed by category for % asynchronous, power and torque of their electric traction motors and where intensive or rough use is most typically encountered. The rated power and traction data are enhanced 
3.13. Percentage of old and abandoned models in the survey that use asynchronous or synchronous motors 
3.14. Number of vehicles surveyed that have a mention of using brushed DC synchronous motors, by type of vehicle 
3.15. Other motor features declared by vehicle manufacturers 
3.16. Number of cars sampled that had one, two, three or four traction electric motors 
3.17. What is on the way in or out with traction batteries 
3.18. 142 manufacturers and putative manufacturers of lithium-based rechargeable batteries with country, cathode and anode chemistry, electrolyte morphology, case type, applicational priorities and customer relationships, if any, in sel 
3.19. Multiple forms of energy management in aviation 
3.20. Choices of flexible photovoltaics 
4.1. Data for RQ-11A version of AeroVironment Raven 
1.1. Cost reduction of components of small drones to 2015 
1.2. Global electric UAV market value $ billion 2015-2025 with assumptions 
1.3. Value of global electric, non-electric and total UAV market 2015-2025 
1.4. US military UAV procurement including systems 1988-2013 
1.5. Northrup Grumman X47-B designed to take off from and land on aircraft carriers. Not currently a candidate for electric power train 
1.6. Cost of Traditional alternatives to UAVs 
1.7. Some impacts of UAVs 
1.8. AeroVironment Raven UAV 
1.9. Collaborative UAV missions 
1.10. Registered number of unmanned agricultural helicopters in Japan and sprayed area 1990-2011 
1.11. Forecast for UAVs in border security $ million 2016, 2021 
1.12. The envisioned final version of the VineRobot 
1.13. Hype curve for autonomous vehicles 
2.1. Bionic Dolphin and Neckar Nymph 
2.2. Gannet diving and planned Cormorant military spy plane/submarine 
2.3. DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 
3.1. Hybrid technology evolving as traction batteries improve 
3.2. The convergence of hybrid and pure electric technologies 
3.3. GE electric aircraft configuration 
3.4. Large format quadcopter 
3.5. Turnigy quadcopter motor 
3.6. Brushless outrunner motor in toy electric bike 
3.7. Small quadcopter 
3.8. Nanoflie 
3.9. Coreless motor parts 
3.10. Location of motors sold in 2022 in vehicles in which they are fitted, in millions of motors and percent of all motors with all figures rounded 
3.11. Supplier numbers listed by continent 
3.12. Traction motor supplier numbers listed by country 
3.13. Targeted applications on top vs market value split in 2012 centre and 2022 on bottom 
3.14. Suppliers of vehicle traction motors - split between number offering asynchronous, synchronous and both, where identified 
3.15. Number of vehicles surveyed that have a mention of using brushed DC synchronous motors, by type of vehicle 
3.16. Number of cars sampled that had one, two, three or four traction electric motors 
3.17. Multiple electric motors on a NASA solar powered, unmanned aircraft for the upper atmosphere 
3.18. The four Cri Cri electric motors 
3.19. Construction of a battery cell 
3.20. Approximate percentage of manufacturers offering traction batteries with less cobalt vs those offering ones with no cobalt vs those offering both. We also show the number of suppliers that offer lithium iron phosphate versions. 
3.21. The UPS 747 that crashed in the UAE with a shipment of lithium batteries 
3.22. Burning Dreamliner pictures 
3.23. Principle of PEM fuel cell 
3.24. PEM fuel cell in long endurance upper atmosphere unmanned aircraft 
3.25. Japanese ten meter long deep sea cruising fuel cell AUV, the URASHIMA, delivering formidable power 
3.26. Pilot plus payload vs range for fuel cell light aircraft and alternatives 
3.27. Total weight vs flight time for PEM fuel cell planes 
3.28. Takeoff gross weight breakdowns. Left: Conventional reciprocating-engine-powered airplane. Right: Fuel-cell-powered airplane. 
3.29. Boeing fuel cell powered FCD aircraft 
3.30. ENFICA FC fuel cell plane 
3.31. Hydrogenius
3.32. Experience curve for new photovoltaic technologies 
3.33. Ubiquitous flexible photovoltaics 
3.34. Solar Impulse 
3.35. Solar impulse construction 
3.36. ETH Zurich solar powered unmanned aircraft for civil use 
3.37. Green Pioneer I 
3.38. Gossamer Penguin 
3.39. Nephelios planned solar airship 
3.40. Silent Falcon™ solar electric unmanned aerial system 
3.41. Test Flight of Soaring in 1994 
3.42. Design of Soaring 3.43. Bubble Plane 
3.44. Solar and fuel cell powered airship concept 
3.45. Northrop Grumman hybrid airship 
3.46. Electraflyer Trike 
3.47. Electraflyer uncowled 
3.48. LaserMotive objectives illustrated 
3.49. A hybrid boat
3.50. Lotus monoblock hybrid engine 
3.51. Adura MESA powertrain for buses and trucks employing Capstone turbine range extender 
3.52. The Bladon Jets microturbine range extender 
3.53. Twin Bladon jets in rear of Jaguar C-X75 concept supercar exhibited in 2010 
3.54. Planned Velozzi supercar with miniturbine range extender 
3.55. The diesel-electric hybrid propulsion helicopter concept is one of the eco-friendly solutions being evaluated by EADS for rotary-wing aircraft 
3.56. GSE mini diesel driving a propeller 
3.57. Greg Stevenson (left) and Gene Sheehan, Fueling Team GFC contender, with GSE Engines. 
3.58. Block diagram of the Frank/Stevenson parallel hybrid system 
3.59. Ricardo Wolverine engine for hybrid UAVs 
3.60. Turtle Airship landed on water in concept drawing 
3.61. Glassock hybrid set up for dynamometer testing 
3.62. University of Colorado hybrid aero engine 
3.63. US Airforce interest in smart sensing skin for aircraft and aircrew 
3.64. T-Ink printed and laminated overhead control console for an electric car 
3.65. T-Ink washable heated apparel based on printed elements 
4.1. Examples of SUAV rechargeable lithium batteries. Top: Flight Power "EVO 20" lithium polymer battery. Bottom: Sion Power lithium sulphur 
4.2. Aeroplanes but not as we know them - SPI electrical SUAV 
4.3. Aurora Skate UAV- award winning in 2012 
4.4. AeroVironment Raven 
4.5. Raven enhancement 
4.6. Aqua Puma 
4.7. Rotomotion VTOL electrical UAV incorporating video camera, telemetry, auto takeoff and landing 
4.8. Examples of robot insects
4.9. UAS nano swarm vignette 
4.10. COM-BAT concept 
4.11. Military hummingbird 
4.12. Lite Machines Voyeur UAV 
4.13. Voyeur in action 
4.14. TEX II Lake Lander 
4.15. The Quadcopter, built at TU Vienna 
4.16. The Quadcopter-Team: Annette Mossel, Christoph Kaltenriner, Hannes Kaufmann, Michael Leichtfried (left to right.) 
4.17. AeroVironment Helios 
4.18. Global Observer first flight August 2010 
4.19. Odysseus self assembling unmanned electric UAV 
4.20. Sunlight Eagle 
4.21. Lockheed Martin morphing electric UAV 
4.22. Lockheed flying cameras based on tree seeds 
4.23. Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) smart airship 
4.24. Lockheed Martin solar airship and P791 concepts 
4.25. Military deployment of solar/ fuel cell UAVs 
4.26. Helios 
4.27. SolarEagle 
4.28. IKAROS 
4.29. Larry Mauro USA 
4.30. Solar Flight 
5.1. The CybAero UAV 
5.2. Planned flight of Flight of the Century pure electric aircraft 
5.3. Test bed aircraft for design of Flight of the Century 
5.4. GL-10 Greased Lightning 
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