Posted on 25th October 2018 in the categories: Magnetics

Electromagnetic Levitation: Quadcopters

Drones are taking over the skies. When you think of a drone, many imagine a quadcopter with four rotors keeping the drone in the air. However, there’s another less obvious method of getting off the ground, spinning magnets.

What is it?

Normally, a quadcopter is a multi-rotor craft that is lifted and propelled. The propellers of a quadrotor are vertically oriented and each of them works in varying speeds, giving the quadcopter the required speed, thrust and turning force, to move in the air. Typically, the quadcopter has the following configurations; two rotors turning clockwise and the other two turning counter clockwise, helping the quadrotor respond to controls of its pilot when flying. However, there is another concept, spinning magnets. In this concept the quadcopters contain four motors each connected to four spinning magnet arrays. Using the electromagnetic interaction between the magnet arrays spun by the motors and the copper sheet beneath, the machine can lift itself.

How does this work?

If you’ve ever dropped a magnet down a pipe and watched it move in what appears to be slow motion toward the ground, it’s somewhat similar. When a conductor experiences a changing magnetic field, electric currents are induced, creating a magnetic field to oppose the change.

In terms of the electromagnetic levitation quadcopter, the rotating magnets induce mirror-image magnetic fields in the copper sheet. When the magnets are spinning fast enough, the repulsion of the magnetic fields creates lift. The induced currents of the magnets encounter resistance in the copper sheet, causing the energy to dissipate as heat.

To achieve lift, the magnet arrays must be incredibly strong. Using Neodymium magnets, they arrange them in a Halbach Array. The Halbach Array is an arrangement of permanent magnets “that augments the magnetic field on one side of the array while cancelling the field to near zero on the other side.” So, in the magnet arrays on the electromagnetic quadcopter, the magnetic field is concentrated almost completely onto the bottom of the magnets while being near zero on the top.

When you hold two magnets with matching poles, they typically swerve away from one another, not allowing you to bring them close together. However, in the case of the electromagnetic levitation quadcopter, the magnetic fields of the magnet arrays and the copper plate are identical mirrors, allowing one to suspend the other.

Click here to view the electromagnetic levitation quadcopter in action.

What can this technology be used for?

A similar method being considered as the driving force behind the Hyperloop, the proposed, mega-fast passenger and freight transportation mode. A pod will be moved through a near-vacuum tube upwards of airline speeds cutting transportation times and costs down immensely. This could revolutionise travel worldwide.

Goudsmit UK

Goudsmit UK manufacture bespoke magnets and magnetic assemblies for virtually any industry. Get in touch today for more information on +44 (0) 2890 271 001 or email us at info@goudsmit.co.uk.

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