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Scaled Power Electrified Drivetrain (SPEED)


The Scaled Power Electrified Drivetrain (SPEED) is a low-power, direct current (DC), single-string testbed which uses a dynamometer as a load and reaches up to 9kW. SPEED helped familiarize NASA engineers with electrified aircraft-related power trains and is used to verify operations and characterize motor and inverter components before being integrated into the Advanced Reconfigurable Electrified Aircraft Lab (AREAL), a 200 kW high-power testbed with DC and motor emulators for reconfiguration capabilities.


SPEED is designed to help meet the objectives of the Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT) project in a low-power environment. RVLT aims to enable vertical lift vehicles, thus sustainable transportation, by providing data to inform related standards development, best test practices, and validated modeling & analysis tools. Integration of results from SPEED into AREAL will enable teams to become familiar with new equipment at a lower power level first before increasing to higher level testing.

SPEED testbed
The SPEED testbed featuring a motor under testing integrated with a dynamometer. Credits: NASA

SPEED will play an integral role in strengthening AREAL capabilities and reducing development times by providing lessons learned through testing and component characterization. Parallel operations can be conducted where equipment can be configured on the SPEED testbed while construction processes are occurring on the AREAL testbed.

The SPEED testbed has been used to configure and validate proper operation of numerous components of the AREAL testbed, including motor and inverter systems from commercial suppliers. Controls and data acquisition systems have also been configured in such a manner to increase robustness to EMI and capture telemetry data at high speeds. The SPEED testbed has also been used to solve problematic grounding and shielding issues.

SPEED has been a valuable testbed for collaboration between NASA projects, namely RVLT and Advanced Air Transport Technologies (AATT) power and propulsion projects. The two teams collaborated to conduct a series of electrical impedance tests – which measure the amount of electric current opposition in a circuit – that can be used to evaluate a number of electrical criteria, including power system stability, robustness, system-to-system compatibility, and best test practices.

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