Featured NewsProduct NewsAccessoriesSelecting the Ideal UAV Propulsion System


06 July 2023

Plettenberg, a leading developer and manufacturer of tailored electric propulsion systems for uncrewed systems market, has released a white paper, which describes the engineering process of designing the ideal propulsion system for a UAV.

Read the White Paper

Engineers of UAV projects are often challenged with the process of designing the propulsion system. Plettenberg divides the process into four logical steps: building the design framework, selecting propellers, choosing the best motor and ESC configuration as well as integrating all components. If engineers follow these steps, the entire development process can be accelerated and is less prone to design failures.

The first step of building the UAV propulsion system is very much about defining target payload and mission profile as well as selecting a suitable UAV design (multicopter, fixed wing, tilt wing, etc.). The second step comprises the estimation of required thrust based on MTOW plus safety factor. Based on this, the most suitable prop can be chosen, i.e. the one with the highest gram-per-watt over the entire load profile, while limiting the size as much as possible. In a third step, the engineer needs to choose the best motor/ESC combination, which matches the propeller and UAV design.

According to Bastian Greiner, the CEO of Plettenberg, the UAV engineer needs to consider the following when choosing the motor: “The ideal motor not only matches the rpm and torque of the selected propeller, but it needs to fulfill many more requirements. The ideal motor is powerful enough to handle the most critical load points but also runs at high efficiency over the majority of the load profile to minimize weight and maximize endurance. In addition, the engineer needs to consider robustness and reliability of the motor. There will be a certain trade-off of weight and endurance vs. robustness and reliability. We at Plettenberg decided that the ideal motor is a customized solution, which can be adjusted to the load profile of the customer to achieve the highest possible efficiency. With our NOVA LW series, we also build the most resilient propulsion systems on the market, which maximize the weight-to-robustness ratio. A robust propulsion system is not only safe, but it also provides the best total-cost-of-ownership, which allows our end-customers to be commercially successful.”

The last step in designing a UAV propulsion system is bringing all components together and integrating the entire system. Engineers are advised to seek suppliers which provide integration support and can help in running performance and thermal simulations of the most critical load points.

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About Plettenberg

Plettenberg is a leading developer and manufacturer of tailored electric propulsion systems for the uncrewed systems market. It is Plettenberg’s mission to build the most rugged but at the same time lightest propulsion systems on the market. The range of motors starts from below 1kW and goes up to 50kW of peak power. In addition, Plettenberg provides rugged ESCs as well as starter-generator solutions.

Read the White Paper

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