Purdue startup targets growing electric aircraft market
A startup founded at Purdue University has developed a software platform it says will support the burgeoning advanced air mobility sector, which includes electric-powered aircraft.
Aerovy Mobility CEO Nick Gunady says the sector’s primary challenge is energy, as it would take trillions of dollars to upgrade the country’s electric grid to support future electric aviation. He says the startup’s cloud-based software works with fleet operators and infrastructure partners to help them create plans that could reduce their reliance on the grid.
“Our current infrastructure, as it is, is simply not ready to handle a huge influx of charging events due to aircrafts combined with the growing electrification of ground mobility, Gunady said.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Gunady said operators could utilize renewable energy sources such as solar, battery storage, and hydrogen to help offset grid dependance.
The company’s planning tool software, known as AATLAS, is based off of research the company has done with the NASA Langley Research Center and is licensing through Purdue.
“[The tool] can go in and analyze any metro area and understand the latent demand for mobility, both cargo and passenger,” Gunady said. “We can identify optimal locations to set up new aviation sites, or if it’s an existing aviation site, like a regional airport or a municipal airport, understand what’s the expected demand for future mobility and project that in terms of what are now the energy requirements and implications that this demand for mobility will cause? And what are the assets that we should invest in to minimize our cost over time?”
The second software program developed by Aerovy, known as VEMS, a live operations tool that automatically connects users with their assets on-site, including chargers and off-grid energy systems.
“Customers will have full control over their infrastructure site without physically needing to be there,” Gunady said. “We have built automation tools to remotely connect with the aircraft, charge vehicles, minimize grid cost and dynamically price without any user input.”
Gunady, who is also a PhD candidate in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and research assistant in Purdue’s Center for Integrated Systems in Aerospace, said in terms of demand, airports and infrastructure operators are trying to figure out what electric aviation means for their future operation and how they should plan for it.
“The planning tool, right now we’re seeing a lot of demand for since these airports are trying to figure out how many chargers do we need to prepare for, what are the solar assets, the batteries,” he said. “And the lead times could be 18-24 months to get these assets in time for entry into service.”
Gunady cited United Airlines and Archer Aviation, which announced plans in March to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago by 2025, which he said creates demand for planning efforts because of the 18-24 month lead time to get all the assets in place.
Aerovy is already partnering with Altaport, an automation software company based in Salt Lake City; Electro.Aero, an electric aviation charging technology company based in Perth, Australia; Greenstar Aviation Partners, an investment firm based in New York City; and Skyportz, a developer of vertiport infrastructure based in South Yarra, Australia.
Purdue says the company also has several memorandums of understanding with additional partners, including original equipment manufacturers, airports and airlines.
Aerovy’s planning tool is expected to have a public beta launch over the next few months, though its partners already have access to it. Gunady said the company has ambitious plans for 2024.
“We’re currently raising a pre-seed [funding] round. We’re pushing for several deployments in 2024, including California, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” he said. “We hope to close the pre-seed round by Q3 or Q4 of this year, which would take us through those deployments next year.”
The university cites a 2019 report from Morgan Stanley Research that says the advanced air mobility sector could become a $1.5 trillion market by 2040.