When the Mars rover “Perseverance” from the US space agency NASA landed on the red planet on February 18, interested observers from all over the world held their breath for a moment. Not least in the small community of Sachseln in the Swiss canton of Obwalden. Because that’s where Maxon Motor AG is based, a manufacturer of precise small motors and drive systems that are used in unmanned aerial systems, among other things. The Swiss have also supplied NASA several times, and Maxon motors are also being used on the current Mars mission. (Reading tip: camera drone on the International Space Station ISS)Not only in “Perseverance”, but also in “Ingenuity” – the first drone to fly in the Martian atmosphere. If everything goes as planned, it is also thanks to Robin Phillips, Head of Space Labs at Maxon.
But how do you actually build the drive for a drone on Mars? There are six DCX10 motors in the drone that control the swashplate, which is responsible for steering. In addition, there are only two other motors in the helicopter that drive the rotor blades. These are in-house development by UAV manufacturer Aerovironment. Since the drive motors had to be integrated so closely into the design, no external supplier came into question at this point.
Maxon develops specially designed motors and controls for professional drone drives in order to meet the high quality and safety requirements. We also focus on weight and system efficiency optimizations for the longest and safest possible flight missions. The underlying technology for these products is based on our industrial controls and motors, which are continuously improved through projects such as Mars missions.