(Photo Credit: INOVA, Kinofly) Multicopter designers and engineers face challenges that involve supporting increased data collection demands, processing and distribution needs; as well as system size, weight and power constraints. More complex power management systems typically include built-in processors designed to minimize power consumption and electromagnetic interference. Multicopter designers are tasked with developing efficient power management solutions to minimize power consumption and in the end goal, extend flight time and maximum performance.
In multicopter design, efficient power management is critical to performance. Power management generally relates to reducing wasted energy in the powertrain between the batteries and the motors through higher-quality components within the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) and advanced motor control algorithms. While reducing wasted energy is an efficiency concern in multicopter design, intelligent control of the peripheral components and sensors is also important. Powering down components until they are needed during flight is an example of sustainable UAV power management.
Power Management in Multicopter Design
In addition to reducing wasted energy, multicopter design demands faster digital signal processing, larger memory sizes, higher currents and multiple supply rails. Innovative power management components call for improved efficiency, lower noise, minimized heat dissipation and lower overall materials costs.
When specifying components for multicopter power systems, designers and engineers must take the following into consideration:
- Efficiency and weight targets
- Quality and reliability specifications
- Built-in test and control functions
- Flexibility for components and airframes
- Cost and manufacturability
Efficiency and Weight
Power management systems for multicopters require careful consideration of efficiency, required performance output, and optimization of weight. The efficiency of Electronic Speed Controllers, in particular, affect the thermal management of a multicopter. Wasted heat energy must be dissipated, and by the physics of BLDC control, is always generated to various degrees. This can be a problem for high-altitude multicopters, making heat transfer challenging and lessening the overall efficiency of the system. Through more robust motor controls, new technologies in MOSFETs and other ICs, the benefits of reducing system heat loads also helps optimize the weight and requirements of the cooling system. This extends the payload capacity and range of the vehicle, further continuing the expansion and capabilities of multirotor technology. It’s important to achieve the appropriate balance between efficiency, performance output, and weight characteristics in any multirotor design.
Quality and Reliability
Another concern of power management systems is quality and reliability. When quality and reliability matter, designers should choose ISO-certified parts and manufacturers. ISO 9001 certification helps to ensure the highest quality throughout the manufacturing and quality inspection process, as well as component tracking for quick production analysis.
At KDE Direct, all of our manufacturing facilities are ISO 9001 certified, in addition to being RoHS (The Restriction of Hazardous Substances), CE (European Conformity), and WEEE (The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) compliant for commercial and industrial applications.
Also important to quality and reliability is engineering and design. Sound engineering means all design aspects have been carefully reviewed for reliability and failure analysis. By including redundancy standards through fail-safes and extensive testing, component manufacturers like KDE Direct focus on quality and reliability to produce the safest propulsion systems available.
Built-in Test and Control Functions
As multicopter applications become more commonplace and more complex, as does the demand for built-in test and control functions. These advanced power management information controls, which can include output voltage, temperature, input voltage, error-checking and other monitoring and testing functions, must be prioritized for quality and efficiency.
As built-in test and control functions add to the power requirements of multicopter applications, power system management must take these factors into consideration.
Depending upon the application, flexibility should be considered. Based on the power management system requirements, products may require modification. Thus, component manufacturers with the capability to design flexible power management systems will be able to keep up with evolving application requirements.
For many designers and engineers, flexibility in design translates to quality multicopter components. It’s important to select components from a manufacturer with a reputation for innovation, vertical integration and on-time delivery, as these factors support flexibility of design principles and in the end, highest chances for profitability in the marketplace.
The final consideration of power management in multicopter design is cost. Whether the design is for commercial, industrial, military or personal applications, power management systems must be designed to maximize efficiency and minimize operating costs for the user. Although the embedded costs of manufacturing for quality are passed to the user, high-quality electronics and properly designed power management systems significantly increase durability and reliability, reducing the costs of ownership and warranty during the life of the project.
Designers and engineers must also take lifespan into consideration. By choosing industrial-grade, high-quality components, you’ll spend more upfront for the initial purchase - but save tremendous costs via reduced downtime and headaches over the lifespan of your multicopter.
Power management systems and their components are essential considerations of multicopter design. Considering elements such as efficiency, quality and flexibility may help you choose the proper power management system and manufacturer for your multicopter design.