Volocopter VC200. The 18-Rotor Electric Helicopter

  • Nov 26, 2013 4:09pm GMT

Reported by Tim Hornyak on cnet.com:

If its 18 rotors aren't enough to get you excited, this crazy flying machine has a "pleasant sonorous sound," according to the German engineers who built the Volocopter VC200.

The VC200 is being billed as "the world's first green helicopter." The multicopter recently took to the skies for the first time in a series of remote-controlled, unmanned flights in an arena in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"Rich and incredibly quiet sound, absolutely no noticeable vibrations in the flight, convincing structure with a great, new spring strut landing gear, and an extremely calm rotor plane," was how Alexander Zosel, managing director of developer E-volo, described the nine flights, which lasted a total of about 20 minutes.

The VC200, has a proper cockpit for two, and is described as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft that doesn't quite fit into any traditional category of flying machine. It has 18 zero-emission, battery-powered electric motors for propulsion instead of the traditional combustion engines of helicopters. A frame and branching supports for rotors are made of carbon fiber to help keep the weight down. E-volo says the Volocopter VC200 can offer passengers a quiet, smooth, green ride. The vehicle is also easy to fly by joystick, and will have low operating and maintenance costs.

The VC200 flew to a height of some 70 feet during its test flights. It can fly for about 20 minutes with current battery technology, but E-volo hopes that will improve to allow for flights of an hour or more.

After additional testing and manned flights, the prototype will be used as the basis for series production in the coming years, said E-volo, calling the craft "the world's safest piece of air sport equipment." "There are already numerous requests for the Volocopter from around the world," Zosel added.

(This machine may be a game changer for individuals interested in owning their own rotary wing aircraft on a budget. No prices have been listed so far but I would assume that it will only be a fraction of what the typical helicopter costs. The stability and smoothness demonstrated in the test flight videos also makes this seem like a very simple machine to master. For those interested in watching the test flight videos, simply type in VC200 on YouTube.)