A series of startups and established aviation giants are joining the Dassault Systèmes’ (DS) 3DEXPERIENCE platform family to support their digital engineering initiatives. Adding to the Airbus, Boeing, Bell, Lockheed Martin, and BOOM Supersonic family, electric air mobility pioneer Eviation Aircraft is also coming on board. A few more aviation startups are also using the Dassault platform, such as Joby Aviation and Solar Impulse. Stay tuned, as we will soon reveal even more startups who will use Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE.
Aviation Startup Eviation Chooses Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE
The big news is urban air mobility (UAM) startup Eviation chose the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform to design its electric airplane, the Alice. Eviation just announced its use of the Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to develop the first prototype of its zero-emission regional commuter aircraft, due out in two years. The electric aircraft startup plans on commercializing the Alice. The electric airplane was recently selected by Cape Air to be the world’s first all-electric regional commuter aircraft capable of carrying nine passengers and two crew for 650 miles at 10,000 feet.
I reached out to David Ziegler, VP of Aerospace & Defense at Dassault Systèmes, about the important part a simulation environment plays for electric UAM companies. This is what he told me:
“UAM players will have to face a tremendous challenge in terms of noise emission in urban environments, and in the case of electrical aircraft, they are also facing the challenge of energy density (e.g., how much energy can you pack in an aircraft per kilogram of battery), knowing that weight is a very important issue that plays on your overall payload and range. Being able to play into a simulated environment helps you at an initial stage to perform multi-discipline optimization, which is key to the overall aircraft design and technology choices.”
I also asked how important it is to the future of aviation that companies like Eviation are coming to market and disrupting business as usual, and what DS can bring to the table in that regard.
“The world, and the aircraft manufacturers, are realizing that aviation will need to transform in order to be more sustainable. Eviation is at the forefront of that transformation. Dassault Systèmes is at the core of this industry renaissance by bringing the necessary environment — the 3DEXPERIENCE platform — for helping these new companies invent new type of solutions for new type of customers. Major OEMs are definitely taking notice. For example, both Airbus and Boeing — adopters of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as part of their digital transformation programs — also have vested interest in UAM, whether it is through Aurora in the case of Boeing, or through the development of Vahana in the case of Airbus.”
What is the ultimate benefit to the consumer?
“The world at large and the traveling public will benefit directly by having access to new, safer, more sustainable modes of transportation. The dream of flying is as old as mankind, and I believe now that through the industry renaissance we are seeing in the aerospace industry, the world is entering a new age of sustainability.”
I asked if a company like Eviation had the ability to be successful 10 or even 5 years ago. What has changed today and how can they accelerate time to market?
“The automotive industry has clearly led the path for electrification. While the needs for aviation are more critical in terms of weight, the transformation toward an electro mobility in the automotive sector has helped define new materials, new field of research both in battery design and distributed power. I also believe that we do live in a very different society now, where sustainability is a major concern for the future.”
In trying to make sense as to how the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform helped companies like Eviation be successful, I asked Ziegler what this means for the overall market? Will we see more innovation down the line?
“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud, and our solution ‘Reinvent the Sky,’ helps startups design the best concept by giving them the ability to simulate their product in a virtual, and make sure the design is flawless before entering into production. It also helps them accelerate the overall design cycle, being able to scale very fast — thanks to the cloud.”
Finally, does DS see a difference in how startups and OEMs approach the e-UAM market? Are their needs different and how is DS positioned to answer those different needs?
“The approaches are not very different in terms of design or technology. Boundaries are blurred especially due to the fact that many OEMs are investing in these startups. However, for pure players, scalability in terms of resources is key. This is why startups are more keen to embrace a cloud solution, especially since they do not have usually any legacy environment.”
CEO Omer Bar-Yohay said in the press release: “When we selected the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, we were an early-stage startup with limited resources and time. We’ve developed our commercial-stage prototype faster than we imagined, and have already signed our first customer in the U.S.”
The aviation startup chose the Dassault Systèmes platform after its track record in the aviation space has helped enable the success of many airplanes we fly today. Eviation will use the platform to ideate, design, and produce the Alice. This will hasten the speed of its design and delivery on the resources available.
Lockheed Martin also chose the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE to design its next generation of airplanes and helicopters. Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics and Rotary and Mission Systems business areas will use the platform for 3D design software, 3D digital mock-up, and product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions. This partnership further underlines the need for comprehensive digital environments to support digital engineering and design in the aerospace industry.
The Automotive Industry Is Also Onboard
And since we’re on the topic of more efficient aircraft, we should note the automotive industry is also going through many changes. Electric vehicle (EV) makers are also using the platform to transform the industry. As we can all see, most automakers are undergoing massive reorganizations affecting their portfolios and committing to the development of electric and connected vehicles. Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE CEO Bernard Charles said Toyota is also adopting the platform to reinvent its already famous traditional car development system to drastically improve its productivity. As the automotive industry undergoes this major transformation, carmakers are facing challenges of survival and sustainable growth. They are planning solutions to build product portfolios that consumers will see in the market within five to ten years.
During its recent earnings call, Dassault mentioned that Spark Racing Technology, a motorsport manufacturer engineering high-performance electric cars, also adopted the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to deliver an electric-powered racing car to all teams participating in the fourth season of the Formula E racing series. It will be designing and assembling the entire car with its completely new innovative architecture in less than two years, and will deliver the finished vehicle to 40 teams participating in the competition. According to Spark’s CEO, Theophile Gouzin, “By using the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, we have a reliable and high-performing solution […]. It has opened many doors for us in terms of new business.”
I was hoping for the convergence of the aviation and automotive industry a few years ago. The Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE is now helping to bring it to life. While we are still far from a universal pod that can drive, go on and underwater, as well as fly, these different industries using simulation bodes well for a future of emission-free flights and drives.