A möbius strip—named after German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius—is a form of infinity loop that has only one continuous side and no end. For Carl Copeland—an innovator and serial entrepreneur, it is the symbol of the boundless, limitless nature of human creativity and ingenuity. It is also the name he has selected for his team, which he hopes will exemplify this ideal at the inaugural Air Race E competition.
In contrast to conventional research and development approaches, the spirit of competition fuels the creative process and enhances critical thinking. Competition has proven itself, historically, as a key driver of human innovation.
Carl Copeland, Head of Team Möbius
Q. Why did your team decide to enter Air Race E?
It was immediately apparent to us that this was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. We’ve been working on several systems that we believe will advance the future of aviation, specifically electric-powered flight. Air Race E gives us the opportunity to showcase these systems via a fun and exciting platform. We also want to help advance the future of clean and efficient electric aviation.
Q. Can you give us some insight on the aircraft you’re currently working on? What is your approach?
Our plan is to select an existing formula one aircraft and modify it to accept our electric-powered system. The primary feature of our e-racer will be the magnetic motor—known as the “Field Modulation Motor” developed by MμZ Motion in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. It’s a fraction of the size and weight of comparable, same-class motors. This will produce an aircraft that is lighter and faster with an extended range.
Q. What sets your team apart in this race?
We believe our team benefits from our unique background as electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineers. Our extensive knowledge of electric motion, control and power systems will prove advantageous. We understand the core systems and are already pioneers in the field of electric-powered aviation and aerospace propulsion.
Q. For you, what is the most exciting aspect of the race?
It’s the pragmatic acceleration of technology advancement by leveraging our natural competitive drive. In contrast to conventional research and development approaches, the spirit of competition fuels the creative process and enhances critical thinking. Competition has proven itself, historically, as a key driver of human innovation.
Q. How important is electric flight to the future of aviation?
Electric motion has several distinct advantages over combustion systems. Even the most efficient forms of combustion start at a 70% thermal loss. Additionally, combustion engines only deliver optimal torque at peak revolutions per minute (RPM). In contrast, electric motors are 70-90% efficient, and can deliver optimal torque at all RPM ranges. This allows for significantly more efficient energy use, and the ability to use more aggressive pitch and angles of attack on the propeller. The promise of greater energy efficiencies and force delivery could extend both the range and load capacity per kilogram of fuel for future aircraft. Adoption of hybrid systems, in particular, would have an immediate impact on commercial aviation.
Carl Copeland is head of Team Möbius, a participating team in Air Race E, which will become the world’s first all-electric airplane race when it launches its inaugural series of international races in 2020. The demand for speed, performance and power management under the rigors of a competitive race environment provides the perfect platform for the development and promotion of cleaner, faster and more technologically advanced electric motors. Airbus is the Official Founding Partner of the series.