Innovative Electronics & Engineering for an eVTOL Air Taxi

ElectronicsEngineeringManufacturingProduct Design & Development

Problem Statement

Archer Aviation is blazing new trails as an electric, air-mobility company. They partnered with DISHER for timely electronics and engineering support for a variety of projects related to their ground-breaking eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft. DISHER is humbled to be one of Archer’s many partners, joining companies like NASA, Stellantis, and United Airlines. Archer hopes to be like an air taxi service, leading the world in next-gen transportation.

Battery Management System (BMS) Design and Development

DISHER was tasked with redesigning a flexible circuit board for a BMS to monitor temperature and measure the voltage in all the Li-ion battery cells for the high-voltage battery pack. Archer trusted the DISHER electronics team to find the best solution in collaboration with Archer’s cross-functional team.

DISHER engineers worked on the current collector assembly, the circuitry that sits on top of the Li-ion battery cells. It is a highly complex component with thousands of electromechanical connection points. We created drawings, 3D designs, and developed prototypes. We worked alongside a diverse team of experts to develop a high-voltage junction box, routing of coolant lines, and optimal PCB packaging for the circuitry. Since the launch of the first Midnight aircraft prototype, DISHER continues to optimize the wiring harness design.

Archer aviation plans in a parking lot

WCCA for Component Designs

Archer tapped into DISHER for worst-case circuit analysis. DISHER engineers used LTspice simulation and Monte Carlo methodologies to test hundreds of components to ensure quality and safety of each individual circuit. This also involved finding, vetting, and sourcing optimal alternatives components when an issue was discovered or when a single-sourced component was identified to prevent potential supply-chain disruptions.

Peripheral Features on PCB

After the successful launch of the first working Midnight aircraft, Archer requested additional peripherals to add to their PCBs to continue to further improve performance. The added peripherals included a High-Voltage Interlock (HVIL) lockout design, a digital LED driver, and external Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) which included temperature sensors made from discrete components. DISHER engineers also worked on circuit design, component selection and sourcing, and library management with Altium.

Archer close up showing propellers

Inverter for the Electric Engine

DISHER was the lead design engineer on the initial mechanical packaging of the electronics and inverter located between the aircraft and motor. (There are 12 motors and 12 inverters transferring all the mechanical load).

Our biggest achievement was balancing the design constraints of weight, cost, and size to complete an innovative bulk capacitor design. Together, we created an innovative plastic part to house all the electrical components for the bulk capacitor. This component took a diverse cross-functional team of experts (members from motor, electronics, EWIS, and engineering), tight communication, and multiple design sprints. There is a patent pending on this design.

Initial Design of Charge Port

DISHER worked through the ergonomics with Archer’s aerospace engineers to develop the proper positioning and design of the charge port. DISHER ensured the receptacle for the charge plug fit properly with the aircraft. We also worked on the wire routing and PCB packaging inside the charge port.

DISHER collaborated with a large cross-functional team from manufacturing, ergonomics, battery, electronics, and EWIS to make sure everything worked together. We also developed the initial feasibility and layout of the charge port door.

Project Outcome

DISHER continues to support Archer Aviation with innovative electronics and engineering support as needed to meet their aggressive timeline goals. Archer is on track to reach the final stages of FAA certification in 2024. Their plan is to launch in the USA in 2025 and internationally in 2026. The sky is the limit with this DISHER client!

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