Williams Advanced Engineering and Airbus have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to bring Formula One-inspired technology and innovation to aerospace and share in the wealth of experience at Airbus.
The collaboration will focus on the ways in which ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries can be integrated on Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme.
Zephyr is a record-breaking, solar-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS), or drone, with unique communications and surveillance capabilities. It will fly at more than 65,000 ft, above commercial air traffic, for months at a time. The first production examples are being manufactured at Farnborough for the UK Ministry of Defence.
With four decades of experience at the pinnacle of motor racing, where lightweight materials and structures are crucial to speed and safety, Williams is now developing these technologies and finding innovative solutions to weight saving with its know-how. Its most recent developments have included an innovative take on using recycled carbon fibre to manufacture components that can be 40% lighter than current alternatives.
As sole battery supplier to the FIA Formula E championship since its inception, Williams Advanced Engineering’s battery technology has been tried and tested, and its world-leading expertise in electrification has become core to the business working with a number of high profile vehicle manufacturers, as well as other applications of battery technology.
Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering said: “Airbus is a name synonymous with innovation and technology in the industry. As such, we are delighted to be working with them on this project, and hope to share some of our expertise in electrification, battery systems and advanced lightweight materials, as well as learn from their vast experience in aerospace. We are very much looking forward to working together on this project and hope the learnings from one another may continue in the future.”
Airbus Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems, Jana Rosenmann, said: “At Airbus we have enormous respect for Williams Advanced Engineering’s technical expertise and achievements, as well as for their impressive record in rapidly bringing new technologies and products to market. Our engineering teams are thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from the Formula 1 world and just as enthusiastic about sharing much of what we have learned in developing solutions to high-altitude, solar-powered flight.
“Both Airbus and Williams are always looking to recruit talented engineers and we hope that this joint activity illustrates the terrific opportunities we offer to work in the kind of technologies that will be critical to future transportation.”