SkyDrive has accelerated research on aerodynamic characteristics with the cooperation of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the company announced this week. SkyDrive hopes this partnership will expedite Japan’s entry into producing vehicles for the aerial mobility space and will lead to improved noise characteristics and safety.

Aerodynamic modeling for eVTOL crafts presents novel challenges to researchers and engineers alike. SkyDrive intends to study rotor optimization (namely rotor geometry and speed) to enable greater efficiency and reduced noise. JAXA brings to the table the largest wind tunnel test facility for aircraft and spacecraft in Japan and almost all aircraft developed in the country to date, including airplanes and helicopters, have undergone wind tunnel tests at this facility. Various research on aerodynamics has been conducted based on the data from this testing to identify aerodynamic characteristics and improve performance.

SkyDrive had accumulated and studied data on flying cars on its own in the past, but JAXA’s cooperation will allow the company to speed up development and contribute more quickly to the realization of an air mobility society.

SkyDrive CTO, Nobuo Kishi, commented on the partnership, “JAXA’s wind tunnel test facility is indispensable for the development of aircraft and most of the aircraft developed in Japan have undergone wind tunnel testing at this facility. We are certain that SkyDrive’s testing at this facility brings our flying car under development one step closer to becoming a safe and reliable aircraft. The data obtained with the cooperation of JAXA will be useful and helpful in the design and development of the rotor to deliver the aircraft specifications expected by society. The testing was conducted on the rotor itself, but we hope to expand the scope of cooperation to include aerodynamic design and analysis of the entire aircraft.”

Why it matters: Industry partnerships with national aerospace agencies like JAXA (others include NASA, ESA, etc) offer fast tracks to the latest technology for computational modeling and scaled component testing prior to locking in production configurations. For eVTOL manufacturers, this offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable intellectual property and mature their designs.

Posted by Ross Piscoran

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