Increasing Flight Time – Interview with Jon Broome of IQinetics

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Matt Piccoli and Jon Broome at the SXSW conference in Austin month (in the IQinetics shirts) with members of the UPenn community who sponsored the trip.

Designers and engineers are constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible with tech of all kinds, and this is especially true in the drone industry. One current major limitation with drones is in flight time. IQinetics is one startup with big plans to increase flight time through more efficient motors. Co-founder Jon Broome took the time to share about their work with us.

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Our company has two founders, myself and Matt Piccoli. Matt earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from The University of Pennsylvania in 2016. He’s a licensed pilot and was the electrical lead of the UPenn’s Formula SAE race car team. Matt worked under the guidance of Mark Yim in the modular robotics lab, named ModLab, for his master’s and doctoral degrees.  It was during this time that Matt began work on the motor controllers that laid the foundation for IQinetics, as well as created the world’s smallest self-powered flying vehicle, named Piccolissimo. Matt is the CEO and CTO of IQinetics.

I graduated from Middlebury College in 2016 with a BA in Economics. I joined IQinetics in January as a co-founder, focusing primarily on our marketing and financial operations. At Middlebury, I co-founded a food service that provided athletes with nutritious post-workout snacks.

We work out of UPenn’s Pennovation Center, a space that the school has dedicated to helping small startups like IQinetics grow. We also still have close ties to UPenn’s robotics lab, which is in the same building.

 

What is IQinetics? How does your motor stand out from other drone motors?

IQinetics is a tech startup that spun out of the University of Pennsylvania’s robotics lab. We first gained recognition in the robotics community for our Anticogging technology, and since, we have built motor controllers that optimize drone performance. Our controllers allow motors to operate more efficiently, spin faster and experience reduced vibration. In other words, our technology means…

  • Longer battery life: up 20% more efficient than available ESCs. With our controller, 25 minute battery life turns into a half hour.
  • Higher peak RPM: we’ve seen a 4.8% boost in speed/torque over standard controllers.
  • Smoother flight: our Anticogging software eliminates 88% of cogging torque ripple, which reduces quad vibration. Less vibration means the flight controller has to deal with less noise, so communication between the pilot and flight controller is improved. Anticogging works by mapping the cogging torque of the motor and essentially playing back the inverse of that map as the motor spins to smooth out the motion. Great for drone pilots who rely on a steady camera too.

 

How does it work?

Our advantage comes from the combination of our hardware design and software. We mount a small magnet on bottom of the motor, allowing the magnetic rotary encoder on our controller to learn the motor’s position based on the magnet’s orientation. Understanding the motor’s position is useful for a variety of reasons. For example, it allows us to Anticog the motor because we know when and where to apply extra (or reduce) current to compensate for the cogging torque as the motor spins. Enhanced position control also lets us spin at low speeds (standard ESCs can’t do this) and change direction very quickly. Matt has been developing the controller software, which is tailored specifically to the hardware design, over the past 6 years. Our tests show that we outperform any ESC/motor package on the market today.

We plan to license our design and software to these companies and become the industry standard in motor control. We would like to enter the hobby community as well, and we hope to partner with a motor manufacturer and sell our “motor modules” (motor controller/motor package) to hobbyists.

Learn more about IQintetics at http://iqinetics.com/.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

I cover breaking news in the drone industry, interview experts in the field to learn from them for myself, and to help spread the love of drones.

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