Paris Air Show

Hybrid UAV motor lands in Europe

 - June 11, 2007, 11:02 AM

Bental Industries, an Israel-based manufacturer of motion systems, is launching its hybrid engine for unmanned aerial vehicles here in Europe, having already introduced it to the U.S. market. Designed for mini to mid-size UAVs, the system combines the benefits of an electric motor and a fuel engine.

During ignition of the UAV’s engine, the electric motor acts as a starter motor, but when the engine is running, the electric motor changes its function. It then becomes an alternator that charges the UAV’s batteries and supplies electric energy to all the on-board systems, including payload, servo-actuators, telemetry and all other electrical components.

Upon arrival over the target, to assure quiet flight and a low thermal signature, the system shuts down the internal combustion engine and the alternator changes its function to become an electric motor that maneuvers the UAV quietly over the area. After accomplishing the mission, the internal combustion engine is restarted by the electric motor, which reverts to its alternator role and once again charges the UAV’s batteries.

Benefits include fuel savings, quiet operation, reduced weight and size, and high survivability because of the low thermal and noise signatures during mission implementation. By unifying two functions into one, the hybrid unit substantially increases the UAV’s endurance, safety and ease of operation by ground operators, claims Bental.

Bental offers a range of on-board and payload systems for mini-UAVs, and has been designated as a preferred supplier for Israel Aircraft Industries, Rafael, Raytheon, CybAero, Schiebel, ABB, Elbit Systems, Pall Aeropower, El-Op, Kodak (Creo), IBM and Galileo Avionica. Bental’s systems for integration into mini-UAVs include motion systems, stabilized gimbal payload systems for observation, miniaturized payloads, propeller motors and actuators.

The company’s engine systems cover the power needs of UAVs and other airborne platforms ranging from a takeoff weight of barely two pounds to approximately 440 pounds. This spans the lightest micro-UAVs to the heaviest vertical takeoff and landing UAVs. All perform in harsh environments.

The new B-020 propulsion unit weighs 450 grams (under 16 ounces). It can deliver 1 kilowatt of power for micro- and mini-UAVs weighing up to almost 18 pounds. The system’s small size makes it easy to integrate with UAVs and its low weight allows for longer flights.

The B-013 unit weighs just 56 grams (just under two ounces) and is intended for micro-UAVs such as the Mosquito. It is a permanent-magnet motor without sensors or brushes that drives the propellers of micro air vehicles.

The B-047-017 unit weighs 1.4 kilograms (just over three pounds) and is already in use on the Israeli Skylark UAV and is suitable for platforms weighing up to 110 pounds (driving propellers 24 inches in diameter).