Industry-disrupting technology can come from anywhere. For Project HERA (or “Projet HERA” in the original French), it is coming in the form of an end-of-studies project for 14 undergraduate mechanical engineering students in Quebec. Project HERA’s vision is to prove the viability of electric-powered flight, essentially doing for aerospace what Tesla aims to do for the automotive industry (albeit, currently on a smaller scale). Antoine Gaillardetz of the team said one of their goals is to give the aerospace industry an idea of the advantages of such technology, and what could be achieved with it – to do so, their prototype will need to climb at least two times higher than the gasoline-powered system could. The prototype’s maiden flight is set for December 2019.
With the end goal of refitting a KR-2 two-seater airplane with electric-powered components, the team created their designs in NX, scanning the parts into NX, in the form of 3D designs, in just two weeks. After scanning the parts in, the team began modifying the designs to fit their goals, putting NX’s convergent design capabilities to use.
One challenge the Project HERA team is facing is keeping the gross weight under 1,000 pounds so that the aircraft’s power will be sufficient for sustained flight. Antoine Gaillardetz said that this has introduced some challenges with the location and heat distribution of the battery – challenges that NX’s simulation capabilities will help the team solve.
Currently, the team is composed of mechanical engineers, and they will soon collaborate with a team of electrical engineering students to more effectively iterate solutions for the wiring and battery challenges. NX’s multi-disciplinary modeling capabilities will allow these two disciplines to seamlessly converge and collaborate, saving time by enabling them to use one design.
Project HERA’s efforts to bridge the knowledge gap between mechanical and electrical engineers and prove the viability of electric flight is already garnering the attention of key players in the industry. We will be following the journey of Project HERA and will be sure to keep you updated.