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CPSRC Seminar: Electrification of aircraft design

Speaker Name: 
Dr. Gregor Veble Mikić
Speaker Title: 
Associate Prof. of Physics. Specialist in Aerodynamics and Aerophysics
Speaker Organization: 
University of Nova Gorica. Joby Aviation
Start Time: 
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 2:00pm
End Time: 
Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 3:00pm
Via Zoom Presentation
Ricardo Sanfelice


Aircraft design is a discipline as well as a process that utilizes various aspects of science and technology in order to create flying machines. A good aircraft design will be a tradeoff between competing requirements, such as speed, range, and comfort, while satisfying a number of safety constraints.

In the past, aircraft design has taken leaps forward with introduction of technologies such as jet engines and composite materials. An electrification revolution is currently underway in aviation. This is primarily driven by the availability of high energy density batteries, and the change is not unlike the one in the automotive field. The larger coming leap, however, is the increasing automation of operation of air vehicles that will eventually lead to their full autonomy.

In this talk, I will give a brief overview of the evolution of technologies and considerations that have shaped aircraft design. Special consideration will be given to electric aircraft propulsion and the ways in which it has been utilized in some of the early electric aircraft. I will give a brief overview of the current Joby electric vertical take off and landing vehicle and the high level design considerations that affected its creation. I will then focus on how various interconnected electric and electronic systems are becoming a key consideration already in the early conceptual design of aircraft, taking on the same importance as the more traditional aerospace disciplines. I will explain how modeling and simulation can be leveraged in order to test and verify complex designs before any parts are built. I will make a case for how automated system control is central in order to meet the safety demands placed on future electric air vehicles.


Gregor Veble Mikić obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2001, in the field of quantum chaos. After a post-doctoral stint at the Universita degli Studi d`Insubria, Como, Italy, between 2001 and 2003, he became an assistant at the University of Ljubljana from 2003 to 2007. In 2007 he became assistant professor of physics at the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, later associate professor in 2013. In parallel, he took on the role of head of research at Pipistrel d.o.o. Ajdovscina, Slovenia from 2007 to 2015. During this period, he led the design of the Panthera general aviation aircraft, and was responsible for the aerodynamics and performance of the Taurus G4, the
aircraft that won the NASA Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google competition in 2011 as a first 4 seat fully electric aircraft. In 2015 he joined Joby Aviation as chief aerodynamicist and head of flight physics group, where amongst other things he was responsible for aerodynamic design of Joby's electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. He received the AIAA 2016 Piper General Aviation Award, which is awarded for outstanding contributions leading to the advancement of general aviation.

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