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Aerospace and defense solutions

Tethered, aerial and underwater vehicles (UAV/UUV/ROV)

This class of unmanned vehicles is powered and controlled via a tether from a ground-based power source. High voltage levels of 500V to 800V allow for greater tether lengths, reduced I2R losses and smaller and lighter cabling. These attributes enable the drone to fly higher, travel longer distances underwater, increase functionality and carry more payload. The power delivery network (PDN) inside the vehicle must be capable of down-converting the tether’s high voltage power source with high efficiency, high power density and low weight in order to free up important payload space. Tethered drone applications typically require a 1 – 5kW ground power supply tethered to a rotor-wing UAV, or UUV, and offer unlimited run time and greater control.

Tethered, underwater vehicle

The power delivery network

Using Vicor high voltage, fixed ratio BCMs (Bus Converter Modules) such as the BCM4414, the UAV design engineer can create a power solution that optimizes system SWaP-C performance. The BCM4414 provides 1.8kW of power for either step-up or step-down conversion at 97%+ efficiency. At the ground station, the BCM4414 isolates and steps down the rectified output from a single or 3-phase AC supply to 48V. A second BCM4414 steps up the 48V to 800V for distribution across the tether. A third BCM4414 is used to step down the 800V to 48V onboard the vehicle. The use of the BCM4414 dramatically reduces the size and weight of the ground supply and UAV, as well as the diameter and weight of the tether itself. The end result is a much more flexible and capable system that can be easily transported to the operating location.  

Downstream of the BCM4414, ZVS Buck Regulators offer board-level designers maximum power density and flexibility for high efficiency point-of-load DC-DC regulation. The integration of a high-performance Zero-Voltage Switching (ZVS) topology increases point-of-load performance, providing best-in-class power efficiency up to 98%. ZVS Regulators are highly integrated with control circuitry, power semiconductors and support components in a high-density LGA and BGA System-in-Package (SiP).

Power Delivery Network for tethered vehicles
Vicor BCM modules

MIL-COTS BCM® bus converter modules

Input: 200 – 400V, 400 – 700V, 500 – 800V

Current: up to 35A

Efficiency: up to 98%

As small as 2.5 x 0.9 x 0.3in

ZVS buck regulator

MIL-COTS ZVS buck regulators

Input: 12, 24 or 48V

Output: 1 – 16V

Current: Up to 22A

Peak efficiency: 98%

As small as 7 x 8 x 0.85mm