NASA SBIR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-2 A1.06-9851
PROPOSAL TITLE: Vertical Lift by Series Hybrid Power

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation
90 Broadway, 11th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1050
(617) 500-4800

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Van Livieratos
90 Broadway, 11th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1050
(617) 229-6853

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott Hart
90 Broadway, 11th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1050
(617) 500-4892

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Vertical Lift is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
A major market for vertical lift aircraft is in urban operations, primarily for police and electronic news gathering (typically a Bell 206 or a Eurocopter AS350). Manned systems are more costly to operate and have a much larger operational footprint than their unmanned counterparts. But the unmanned multirotor does not have the range and endurance to compete with the manned systems.

Aurora Flight Sciences believes that the Passive Miller Cycle (PMC) Series Hybrid System is a viable way to achieve the range and endurance required to penetrate the manned vehicle market. The PMC, like the typical Miller Cycle, uses delayed intake valve timing that allows the expansion ratio to be greater than the compression ratio; reducing pumping losses and giving greater energy extraction. But the PMC does not use a positive displacement supercharger. The delayed intake valve closing also allows the PMC greater quench in the combustion chamber to confront the fuel droplet issue associated with small engines. The delayed valve timing also allows the generator in the hybrid system to be optimized for power generation while still being used as the engine starter.

Based on the models developed in the Phase I program, Aurora will design, procure, and integrate the components required to demonstrate the Passive Miller Cycle (PMC) in a series hybrid architecture. The test system will be used to calibrate Phase I models and design a multirotor using the PMC hybrid system that will be able to perform police and news gathering missions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed unmanned multirotor vehicle with enhanced endurance enabled by a passive Miller Cycle series hybrid propulsion system confronts many commercial markets relevant to current NASA efforts. Two potential commercial markets that we will pursue include Emergency Services and Inspection Services. Aurora intends to replace expensive manned helicopter systems used by both emergency personnel for fire or disaster mapping, and by commercial inspection services for building inspections or utility service inspections (e.g. cell phone towers, power lines, and bridges). A second potential market for these multirotors would be in environmental monitoring and data collection in severe operational conditions where the use of manned vehicles would pose an inordinate risk to the pilots. This could include wildfire monitoring, storm tracking, environmental data collection in extreme environments (i.e. arctic conditions), and more. The passive miller cycle series hybrid propulsion system is an enabling technology for breaking into these markets as the current state-of-the-art in multirotors has endurances too low to be practical for such missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are two main non-NASA commercial markets that Aurora sees as prime targets for using the high-endurance and payload capacity vertical lift aircraft developed under this program: Commercial applications and non-NASA Governmental applications. On the commercial side the primary market we are targeting is for urban operations, primarily for police operations and electronic news gathering. This market is currently limited to manned helicopters which are expensive to maintain and operate. Opening up this market to unmanned vehicles would provide a substantial reduction in operational costs and operational footprint (e.g. takeoff/landing area requirements, emissions, and noise) than the current manned systems. Additionally, it is expected that the lower operational costs would open the market to smaller law enforcement departments and news agencies that up to now have not had air services.

On the government side, there are many aspects of the government and military that could benefit from this platform. Its long endurance would be a useful in ISR missions as well as inspection services for oil and gas lines, solar and wind farms, and other large areas that need to be monitored. Additionally, its payload capacity would be invaluable in distributing material (i.e. ordinance, radios, first-aid supplies, rations) in contested urban environments with friendly forces spread over a large the area.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Atmospheric Propulsion
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Simulation & Modeling
Vehicles (see also Autonomous Systems)

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