• Volocopter prototype is a drone large enough to carry two people
• Manufacturer e-volo claim it marks “a new era in urban mobility”
• Simplified joystick controls combine pitch and gliding so it’s easy to fly
• Vertical takeoff and landing eliminate the need for a runway
• Safety first design – multiple rotors and engines will compensate for faults
• Electric motors make it quiet and environmentally friendly
German company e-volo have successfully trialled the first manned flight of a certified multicopter, a drone large enough to carry people.
Company Managing Directo took the Volocopter VC200, powered by 18 rotors, for a short four minute test flight ascending to a height of 25 metres before landing. He said “The flight was totally awesome. The machine was absolutely reliable, there were no vibrations, it was tremendous. Anyway, the first flight was simply unbelievable!”
The Volocopter has been consciously designed to be easy to use, reducing the need for the time-consuming lessons that are required when learning to fly a helicopter. It’s controlled using a joystick that combines automated pitch and gliding so the pilot doesn’t have to worry about over-tilting the aircraft. It can even hover stationary in the sky.
There is no need for it to use a runway on a dedicated airfield because it’s a vertical take-off and landing aircraft meaning it can launch upwards from a confined stationary position. The prototype was flown at 15mph but has a theoretical maximum of 60mph.
It’s battery powered and currently provides a flight time of 20 minutes although e-volo are working on tripling this. The electric charging eliminates the need for a reliance on fossil fuels and the electric propulsion means it runs much quieter than a car engine reducing noise pollution.
To minimise the risks posed by technical faults it uses nine separate batteries to power the engines and propellers, so if any electronics or mechanical part fails it will still be possible to safely land.
e-volo are iterating the design so it can be awarded the A type flight certification necessary to make it legally airworthy before mass production can begin. They have high hopes for their technology which they see as becoming a viable alternative to the car. Initially they see it being used by air-taxi services before their use becomes more widespread “For the first time humans’ dream of personal flight as a daily routine becomes attainable.”