13 September 2018 || 4 min read
Erik Lindbergh is applying a course correction to his company’s approach to the urban air mobility market.
Erik, who is the grandson of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, founded VerdeGo Aero in 2017 with the mission of transforming how we fly. This purpose fits with his own personal mantra – to escape from gravity through aerospace, art, and adventure, and it also amplifies the purpose and direction of VerdeGo.
Until recently, VerdeGo was focused primarily on designing and manufacturing Urban Air Mobility aircraft. As the company built on its founders’ years of experience with electric and hybrid electric propulsion, VerdeGo identified an opportunity to pivot from being an aircraft manufacturer to a focus on powertrain systems to propel the entire industry. While most eVTOL firms have focused on the full-stack solution to aircraft, Verdego seeks to become the leader in expertise, design, and supply of IDEP systems – Integrated Distributed Electric Propulsion.
The first generation hybrid IDEP systems would include electric motors, wiring, and controllers, batteries, piston generators or turbine generators, and in second generation versions, full battery-powered versions are planned. While many eVTOL companies are targeting batteries now, the rate of increase of battery technology (3% per year average increase in energy density) does not warrant a battery-pack optimized solution just yet. VerdeGo is integrating together the best components from world-class partners to engineer the IDEP powertrains.
A growing number of players in the urban air mobility market are gravitating towards more shared resources and common standards that allow for modularity in manufacturing and production processes – not just at the component level, but at the sub-assembly, and even complete assembly level as well. For instance, utilizing a common production line for composite materials that are then supplied to their respective companies could alleviate the pinch point of space and resource requirements for similar advanced manufacturing tasks. In VerdeGo’s application, IDEP would allow for other OEMs to adapt their modular propulsion system to solve propulsion challenges for a wide variety of designs for individual customers.
Why it’s important: Verdego’s unique approach to optimizing the design and production of a IDEP systems for urban air mobility solutions is a strategy that should allow customers to optimize their designs for the performance levels that batteries will deliver in 15 to 20 years, rather than designing a sub-optimal aircraft around the near-term capabilities of batteries. Their decision to configure IDEP systems to work via plug- and-play battery or combustion engine integration is a design consideration that enables high levels of performance now while providing the capability to be compatible with future battery technologies.”