Vertical lift technology is undergoing a major renaissance and is at an incredibly exciting point in its development history. On the one hand, driven by the US Department of Defense’s needs, there is tremendous interest in configuration advancements leading to efficient Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft that are simultaneously capable of significantly higher cruise speeds. On the other hand, there is a tremendous buzz around the emergent field of multi-rotor electric-VTOL (e-VTOL) aircraft. Unlike the small multi-copters used by hobbyists, a new class of larger multi-rotor e-VTOL (both all electric, as well as hybrid electric) aircraft is envisioned for a range of applications from package/payload delivery to air taxis. Enabled by the use of distributed electric propulsion, with piloted as well as autonomous operation, e-VTOL aircraft have the potential to completely change the mobility paradigm. However, the realization of increased maximum speed capability of VTOL aircraft as well as the development of large e-VTOL aircraft (with meaningful range/endurance) face fundamental research challenges, requiring breakthroughs at the frontiers of knowledge. But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities! In Spring 2018, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute established the Center for Mobility with Vertical Lift (MOVE) to address the current technical challenges in vertical lift, and exploit the opportunities these new configurations offer. The missions of this Center are to:
- Investigate and Innovate – pursue cutting-edge research to better understand fundamental phenomena, leading to technical solutions and new directions in the development of high-speed VTOL, e-VTOL as well as classical VTOL aircraft technologies.
- Educate – attract the very best students to vertical lift and provide the highest quality education and training to produce MS and PhD graduates who will be future leaders in the vertical lift technical community.
- Collaborate – internally, MOVE serves as a hub, bringing together Rensselaer researchers from various disciplines, facilitates the exchange of ideas and the formation of teams to attack the most challenging and interesting inter-disciplinary problems in vertical lift; but equally, MOVE seeks to complement its strengths by actively partnering with government, industry and other academic institutions towards the advancement of vertical lift.