The world’s first certified Multicopter, e-volo’s Volocopter VC200, has made its first manned flight. The makers are targeting urban flyers and hope it will mean more widespread use in conventional aircraft domains.
“The flight was totally awesome” pilot Alexander Zosel said right after his landing. “I got in, we did the pre-checks for what felt like maybe 20 seconds, and after that I’d already got the all-clear for flying. I didn’t wait long, I simply pushed the lever upward and the Volocopter simply sprung upward in a single bound. It is definitely a sublime feeling to lift off, fly the first few meters, and then actually take my hand off the joystick and think that, yeah, it’s really as if I’m standing on the ground, and then I look down and there are 20-25 meters beneath me. So it’s definitely unbelievable what we’ve achieved here. It’s seriously unbelievable!”
The Volocopter uses electric motors making it quiet and ecological. The battery technology means limited capacity for now but increased flight duration and speed will come. In the meantime they are working on the integration of a serial hybrid drive to extend options.
Stalling, pitch adjustment, gliding angle are controlled through a simple joystick. Well in excess of 100 microprocessors and a large number of different sensors. As for safety e-volo says on their website, "All safety-relevant components are present multiple times, mutually monitor each other and compensate for the malfunction of individual components. This means there is no danger even if several motors cease functioning. You can safely continue flying and land. In addition our arrangement of 18 rotors offers considerable efficiency and safety advantages compared to other concepts."
For weather related problems they add, "In turbulence the Volocopter immediately stabilizes itself thanks to the automatic altitude control and without the pilot’s intervention. You can even let go of the joystick when you wish to gaze at something in wonderment, the Volocopter retains your altitude and position."
But if all else fails, "We have nevertheless included a full aircraft parachute for incorrigible pessimists. You will then descend to the ground, very gently, still securely seated in the aircraft, in an emergency."
e-volo won the Lindbergh Innovation Prize in 2012. Awarded to acknowledge innovations in environmentally-friendly aviation and to promote significant advances in the aviation field Erik Lindberg said, "We believe that the development of the Volocopter promises significant prospects of radically altering local transport. It has a long path of development before it but if this innovative concept reaches the commercial market it will dramatically alter the manner in which we move around the planet.”
Video: Dawn of a revolution in urban mobility - first manned flight with the Volocopter VC200