The Aero-X

Platform

Aerofex is developing a portfolio of technologies that are enablers for aerial utility and urban air mobility.

Fundamental to those efforts is the Aero-X – our next-generation concept craft that embodies our latest innovations.

The Aero-X is designed primarily for speed, safety, and reliability. Safety and reliability are inherent in its enclosed fans, intuitive pilot interface and redundant systems.

And speed - because the goal is to get there fast, whether to the finish line or because you’re late.

Form Factor

As urban air mobility moves closer to reality the craft that enable personal transportation will evolve to fit in your garage.  Preferably in a single space.

Fans, rotors or propellers will propel them, as other options are too loud. Rotor efficiency increases with diameter. A single large rotor is better than a lot of smaller ones. If limited to that single garage space, then two fans are best and always better than three or four. More than eight is just not good.

That reduces options to just a few - of which the tandem-duct platform is one. That is how the Aero-X is configured - and it is one example of where Aerofex innovations will prove an enabler.

The Future is Shrouded

Ducted or shrouded fans protect people on the ground from the hazards of exposed rotors, and the pilot and passengers in the event of an obstacle strike. They also reduce noise and increase efficiency over exposed rotors.

Aerofex duct technology manipulates the air-flow for thrust augmentation and control. Another innovation are control surfaces that form a deployable shield to protect passengers and personal while on the ground.

We have developed stable and stiff carbon-fiber ducts and fans that are lightweight and tilt-able – resolving the weight and drag issues usually associated with shrouds.  The primary duct structure on the Aero-X is over six feet in diameter and weighs less than seven pounds.

6DOF Control

Our tandem-duct platforms utilize a servo-driven control system that allows direct control of all 6 degrees of freedom in flight (a typical drone directly controls 4 of 6).

All control devices are embedded in the ducts. Their symmetry results in very little control coupling. They remain effective in and out of ground effect.

Having an all-electric control system allows us to utilize the latest flight controllers and drone technology. And without mechanical linkages between the airframe and controls, tilting the ducts becomes a more feasible means to reduce momentum drag and increase forward speed.

Proper Revolution

Ducted fans require unique blades, particularly when used for vertical lift and flown in and out of ground effect. Aerofex designs and fabricates propellers developed specifically for ducted applications. They are constructed of braided carbon fiber pre-forms and uniquely molded to ensure counter-rotating symmetry.

The Aero-X blades are produced in sets that are mirror images of the other. They are assembled into three to five-bladed fans with adjustable pitch hubs to spin either clockwise or counter-clockwise for multi-fan arrangements.

Powerplant Agnostic

The controls on our platform are independent of the propulsion system. That enables us to fly on any type of engine – gas, hybrid, fuel-cell or electric.

And since it is not used for control, we can fly with a single engine - or two for redundancy. Drones need at least three.

Electric aircraft offer environmental benefits and simpler architectures. Battery energy density is quickly developing to the point where useful electric flight will become a reality – and we will embrace it.

In the meantime, we have the benefit of using the most efficient engines available, for any given mission

Intuitive Piloting

The pilot interface on the Aero-X uses the control-set developed on our air-bike. It is a radical departure from the helicopter interface first introduced by Sikorsky in 1939. It is designed to improve safety by reducing pilot workload and provide a new standard for VTOL flight.

The control-set places pitch, roll, yaw and thrust in the hand grips and enables full vehicle control with only one-hand. The pilots feet are free. Unlike a helicopter, the interface is intuitive and modeled loosely on a bike - you move it in the direction you wish to go.

The control-set was developed iteratively through many flight hours on the Aerofex air-bike. There is no denying it is intuitive – and it works well.