Merger with Microdrones Brings More R&D Possibilities for Schübeler

Daniel Schübeler, CEO Schübeler Technologies, recently participated in a software and Technology Podcast discussing vertical take-off and landing technology, or VTOL, VTOL tech. In this podcast, Daniel examines the issue of fan propulsion for vertical take-off and landing platforms, how they impact VTOL applications, and what a complex and compromising fan propulsion solution looks like in practice. You can listen to the podcast in the player below or read the summary provided.

Schübeler Technologies & VTOL Technology

Schübeler Technologies, founded in 1997, provides advanced fan propulsion jets and light-weight composite materials fabrication. They offer a full product lineup of robust turbo fans, jets, compressors, pumps, electric motors, carbon fiber and aluminum composites, Schübeler products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and demanding field use. These components provide thrust power and lightweight durability to high tech applications including UAVs, professional motorsports and heavy-duty outdoor equipment.

Schübeler Technologies see Vertical Take-Off and Landing as a promising direction in the near future. Daniel Schübeler, CEO Schübeler Technologies, notes that the company is a VTOL trailblazer when it comes to drone technology. “We are pioneers in this field,” he said. “We did the first VTOL drone in 2010. It was a tilt wing co-operative initiative between Schübeler, Microdrones and RWTH Aachen University, which saw the development of a successful experimental VTOL airframe.”

Smart Technology Sets the Stage for the Future of VTOL

However, VTOL has been around long before Schübeler Technologies. The history of vertical takeoff and landing dates back to early days of modern aviation. A primitive helicopter was flown in 1907, but it wouldn’t become a pillar of flight until after WWII. The crux of VTOL is all about physics, as two opposing demands play out—the need to hover and enable forward flight.

This push and pull had long mired VTOL in the land of something possible, but not practical. It has been a space mainly for military applications, but smart technology is removing some of its prior limitations with electric propulsion fans, which have been the focus of Schuebeler Technologies

But what about the future of the field and new applications?

“VTOL is a very famous word in these days with all the start-ups in transportation and the air taxi market,” said Daniel Schübeler, CEO of Schübeler Technologies. “When thinking about feasibility, transporting goods is more realistic than people.”

While it certainly makes sense in densely populated metro areas to consider the air taxi industry, moving people and goods are quite different. There are more regulations and safety concerns, as well as the need for larger vehicles. It’s an expensive and complex idea to bring to market, but many start-ups are hoping to do just that.

VTOL Aircraft Explained

A VTOL aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. The segment includes both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. While VTOL technology is understood to be valuable, it’s been challenging to be successful. One of the best examples of a VTOL aircraft is the Osprey, an aircraft helicopter hybrid.   

The key challenge with VTOL technology goes back to hover and forward flight. Hovering requires a considerable amount of air and high thrust at low power. Forward flight involves a smaller amount of air and acceleration to high speed.

These are two vastly different activities that work against each other, leaving performance to be uncertain. Because of this, scalability has not been a viable option to date.  

“Besides Schübeler, I can only name one, maybe two companies who work with a really serious background in electric fan propulsion systems,” says Schübeler. “These one or two companies are working on their own tailored solutions for their own kind of air transportation project. So, I think it's fair to say that Schübeler is the only one in the market who offers a wide product range at a very high technology level. Our product range currently goes from a few hundred Watts to 17 to 18 kilowatts per fan at the moment.”

Smart Technology and Innovation Move VTOL into Realm of Possibility

However, Schuebeler Technologies has been on a mission to develop electric compulsion fans to meet VTOL aircraft needs, allowing performance and flexibility remain intact.

“In VTOL, you have to accept the best compromise between the two needs,” Daniel said. 

The company has been working on electric propulsion to meet VTOL needs, learning over the years from previous roadblocks like overheating motors and batteries that lacked sufficient range.

By innovating, they developed a new motor with appropriate cooling concepts. The company took a systematic approach to solving the challenges, understanding the big picture of how to enable hovering and forward flight. Their years of perfecting these fans have brought the industry an expansive array to fit various aircraft. 

Schübeler Technologies has continued to focus on increasing motor efficiency and mechanical robustness, which could make VTOL more accessible in the future as more applications become viable.

For more information please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Electric ducted fan-equipped airframe breaks speed record, establishing new flight path for commercial UAV innovation.

by Vicki Speed, Technology Reporter, Inside Unmanned Systems

Innovation in the aeromodelling space may not seem like the forum for advancement in commercial and military UAV operations—or is it?

In 2019, one of the world’s most successful high-speed aeromodelling pilots, Bruno Stükerjürgen, wanted to compete in one of the field’s biggest speed challenge events in Osnabrück, Germany. Stükerjürgen’s goal was to build a custom airframe, instead of using the conventional slim design, that could exceed the seemingly unreachable 400 kph record for model airplane flight speed.

To achieve his goal, he sought the expertise of fellow aeromodeller Daniel Schübeler, founder of Schübeler Technologies GmbH, a premier German manufacturer of advanced fan propulsion systems and lightweight composite parts which is part of commercial UAV developer, Microdrones.

Schübeler recommended an electric-powered ducted fan, or EDF-enabled propulsion system, similar to the systems used in airships and aircraft, to deliver higher air speeds. The result far exceeded Stükerjürgen’s expectations and opened the door for the development of a new generation of unmanned commercial and military systems where safety and speed counts.

Optimized for Speed

Stükerjürgen’s airframe was designed by a student from the RWTH Aachen University, a research university located in that North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, city.

Stükerjürgen provided airframe flight parameters such as drag coefficients to Schübeler Technologies to design the ducted fan. Whether robust turbo fans, compressors or electric motors, Schübeler products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and demanding field use, and to provide thrust power and lightweight durability to high-tech applications including UAVs, professional motorsports and heavy-duty outdoor equipment.

A ducted fan is a shrouded low-diameter axial fan, ideal for generating higher pressure, lower-volume flow and high-exhaust speed. Unlike an exposed propeller, ducted fans, also known as axial fans, feature blades that are mounted inside a cowling. This design is critical to making the blades efficient (i.e., high thrust, low power). Even the smallest error in an aerodynamic system can cause a loss of 30 to 40 percent efficiency.

Schübeler believed the electric ducted fan solution would be easier to build than conventional electric propulsion or multi-engine solutions and deliver higher maneuverability.

For Stükerjürgen’s airframe, Schübeler worked with dynamic performance curves—available for every Schübeler ducted fan—to predict power consumption at different speeds. The team also designed the inlet and outlet geometries, crucial characteristics for any optimized system. The blade design was also critical for delivering a safe and reliable system that yields high thrust with low power input and longer flight times. Early estimates showed the DS-51-AXI HDS (90 mm) with a standard motor would achieve at least 430 kph while consuming less than 6kW.

Stükerjürgen and Schübeler put the concept to the test a few months later at the Osnabrück aeromodelling competition.

Stükerjürgen’s airframe, launched from a catapult, achieved a top speed of 460 kph and a steady state speed of 430 kph in the track—all while using around 500W less input than other systems.

Schübeler said, “The system is fast, powerful and highly efficient. We achieved an efficiency of around 65 percent, which is comparable to fast-spinning propellers for higher speeds.” He is especially proud that the reality closely matched the theoretical numbers, adding, “Our real-world results aligned with our predictions about power and speed in the first approach.

We didn’t need multiple design loops—that’s very satisfying.”

Bruno Stükerjürgen’s custom airframe with a Schübeler EDF-enabled propulsion system.

EDF in the Extreme

While the Stükerjürgen project was a fun and highly successful experiment to demonstrate that an electric ducted fan could power a high-speed hobby airframe, it has proven to be much more significant in the UAV space.

“Fundamentally, we were able to prove that fan propulsion systems are an efficient alternative to propellers, if integrated well,” Schübeler explained. “An electric ducted fan propulsion system offers more affordable power options for unmanned aircraft as compared to small jet engine-enabled systems.”

Conventional thought is that to increase the thrust of an electric ducted fan, thus delivering more power and speed, requires additional weight. However, the Schübeler development team is able to match duct fan systems—including optimal pitch, blade count, diameter, weight and balance—to any UAV airframe and desired flight parameters, which is exactly what they did for Stükerjürgen’s airframe. Schübeler also develops the HST EDF, often requested by universities for wind tunnel research. For instance, the DS-51HST fan/motor combo is available in a 1100kV version and 950kV version.

The Schübeler team is able to predict the performance of its fan propulsion systems in very precise flight conditions, even extreme applications. In fact, one Schübeler product is used in the stratosphere at 55,000 feet altitude.

“The future electric ducted fan propulsion systems will go in the direction of a good mix of low-speed handling, vertical climbs and jet-like speed combined with longer flying times,” Schübeler predicted.

A close up view of the DS-51-AXI HDS (90 mm) impeller.

Propelling Ahead

Schübeler and his team are also focused on a deeper dive into professional propulsion systems for commercial UAVs. “With these tough applications, we run into thermal and mechanical challenges; there is always opportunity for continuous improvement in motor design and production,” he said.

The long-term mission, Schübeler said, is to make battery-powered electric flying platforms good enough to fulfill serious enterprise missions. He pointed to the potential use of electric ducted fans as control and propulsion systems for flying machines in applications where size is limited and high static thrusts are required, for example in aerial vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), hovercrafts or even actuated wingsuit flight.

Bruno Stükerjürgen and Schübeler Technologies GmbH will continue to explore electric ducted fans for high-speed aeromodelling airframes in 2020. Schübeler concluded: “Next we will develop a propulsion system that can reach 500 kph, which will take a tremendous amount of power increase for the additional 40 kph. That kind of jump won’t come from just efficiency, but we’re excited to make it happen.”

If you need efficient and reliable electric ducted fan propulsion technology, please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article originally appeared in Inside Unmanned Systems

When seeking to develop and enhance new and innovative technology or adding features to legacy products, being bogged down by the minutia of running a small business can take the focus off a company’s real objective: product design and creation. Administrative duties, organizational concerns and sales in an international market often take precedence over research and development.

Such was the case for Daniel Schübeler , CEO and Founder of Schübeler Technologies GmbH, a premier manufacturer of advanced fan propulsion jets, fan drive nozzles, and lightweight composite materials fabrication. However, late last year, the company merged with Microdrones, the pioneering provider of fully integrated systems for surveying, mapping, LiDAR and inspection applications used in the construction, mining, energy, agriculture and infrastructure industries.

With a fused interest in technological advancement and a motivation to propel UAV’s to new heights, these two companies have united, combining knowledge and expertise that bring benefits to both companies. While the merger expands Microdrones’ UAV technology capabilities, Schübeler now has the freedom to focus on research and development, creating cutting-edge innovations that will shape the future of UAVs, electric jets and more.

Watch this video to see why Schübeler stakeholders feel the merger with Microdrones has brought the company more space, 
more tools and more possibilities.

For our team in Bad Lippspringe (Paderborn), we are looking for a motivated development engineer who supports our development team as soon as possible. Within this new position, you dive deeper into the mechanical design, rotor dynamics, flow simulation and simulation of electrically driven turbomachinery. You should bring with you the knowledge to optimize the machines in terms of efficiency, robustness and lightweight construction.

In return, we offer you state-of-the-art materials for your tasks, a dynamic team and an exciting challenge. You take care of the design and testing phases of our projects and should already have experience in getting in touch with international customers. Ideally, you have several years of experience in Aerodesign and Mechdesign, lightweight and solid structures are a matter of course for you.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM US:

 

Since 2018 Schübeler Technologies is a part of Microdrones Group.

At Schübeler Technologies, we know that it is the people who make our company a success. We encourage personal and professional growth and success among our globally diverse workforce by offering:

  • Career and personal development opportunities
  • An innovative, growing, international company with many exciting tasks
  • Flexible working hours and decentralized work
  • A great team and an exciting product
YOUR TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
  • You support our development team and develop solutions for our new products
  • You design, construct and detail complete components and assemblies with regard to specified criteria
  • You are responsible for performing calculations, drafts and drawing derivations you build the prototypes you design, test them and document your progress and the results of your tests
  • You work closely with your teammates and production
YOUR PROFILE AND SKILLS:
  • You have successfully completed a degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or similar
  • You have extensive work experience within designing
  • The safe and ready-to-use handling of a relevant CAD program is required
  • You have an independent, creative way of working and are interested in developing new ideas
  • You are skilled in craftsmanship and enjoy building and testing the prototypes you have designed
  • You speak English and German fluently
  • Your results-oriented and structured way of working as well as your teamwork complete your profile
  • Initial experience with numerical simulation is an advantage

 

Apply here https://www.microdrones.com/en/team/career/

Microdrones stands for diversity and equal rights. None of the above expressions should be discriminatory in terms of age, sex, ancestry, religion, belief or experience. We confirm that we are pleased to accept all applications from candidates of any age, gender, ancestry, religion, belief or experience.

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