We may not have flying cars yet, but this new contraption out of Germany may be the next big step in personal air transportation. It's a multicopter a flying vehicle that sports many propellers instead of one. The potential practical applications of this technology run the gamut from air ambulances to air taxis . It could be a fun sporting device, or an aviation vehicle to inspect things like wind turbines. Seen here, e-volo developer Thomas Senkel made history when he piloted the world's first manned flight with an electric multicopter in late October. The flight lasted only 1 minute and 30 seconds, but the device's technological effects may be far-reaching and long-lasting.
Light enough to be classified as an ultralight flight vehicle, e-volo's multicopter weighs in at 176 pounds (80 kilograms), batteries included. A joystick controls the hovering device. Using lithium batteries, the multicopter can run for around 20 to 30 minutes, but the team is working on increasing maximum flight time. In contrast to many typical helicopters , the multicopter's simplified construction and its electric power may make the device a significant development in sustainable air transportation.
The test flight, piloted by Senkel, took place in a field in southwestern Germany and was the first of its kind. The multicopter is outfitted with 16 rotors, and can be landed safely even if four of its rotors fail. Note the lack of a rotor above the pilot's head it's to accommodate deployment for his parachute. The e-volo website reads, Unlike the rotor of a helicopter, the propellers don't have any pitch control and therefore no wear. These factors make the multicopter mechanically simple, with close to no maintenance necessary.
E-volo boasts that its multicopter eliminates many of the typical concerns associated with standard helicopters. While flying this multicopter, the developers say the pilot doesn't have to pay as much attention to minimum speed and stall, among other things, and the multicopter's vertical takeoff and landing may serve as a useful advantage in some situations. The team has stated on their website, Simple flight for the average person would be a dream come to reality for us. In the next few years we would like to make more of these simple to fly devices available at an affordable price.
The e-volo team consists of pilot Senkel and his colleagues, Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel. In the future, they hope to see multi-seat mulitcopters that could fly for many hours continuously, which could be useful in sightseeing flights or as quiet, green, cost-efficient air taxis. The multicopter is also cost-efficient to maintain, according to the team, and their website says that their device can be a viable counterpart to current aviational transport.