Electric two-seater Volocopter is tested in Germany (w/ Video)

Electric two-seater Volocopter is tested in Germany (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The flying machine looks something like a helicopter but it is quite different and is intended to be a future answer to the greening of noisy, vibration-heavy helicopters as we have known them. A two-seater prototype of the Volocopter, by the company e-volo, made its maiden voyage earlier this month in Karlsruhe, Germany. The team used a prototype of the two-person VC200. Based on this model, it will be prepared for series production. Billed by its makers as "the world's first green helicopter," the emission-free Volocopter is a vertical take-off and landing manned aircraft, with features that set it apart from conventional aircraft. For one, the machine, instead of being kitted out with one combustion engine, carries eighteen electrically driven rotors to propel it. Through the propellers, the Volocopter can take off and land vertically just as does a helicopter. The team responsible for the machine said the 18 rotors present a considerable advantage, apart from the simple construction not requiring complex mechanics. The advantage is said to be in the redundancy of drives. This enables the safe landing of the Volocopter even if some drives fail.

During the first flights of the prototype in November, the team made note that the device had a lower noise level than conventional helicopters, confirmation of no noticeable vibrations in flight, and an efficient spring strut landing gear. Speaking about vibrations, e-volo's Stephan Wolf said that vibrations in the structure of a plane have been problems for normal , and that vibrations together with the high noise level have led to passenger discomfort but their "green" version resolves such issues. Wolf and Alexander Zosel, CEO, stated that "not even the HD video cameras secured to the exterior carbon ring of the rotor plane captured the least vibrations."

The VC200 two-seater Volocopter plans involve the following characteristics: a cruising speed of at least 54 kn (100 km/h); a flight altitude of up to 6500 ft; maximum take-off weight of 450 kg; and more than one hour of flight time. (At present, a battery flight time of 20 minutes is possible, according to the company site, but in the near future this will be extended to one hour or more.) E volo was the winner of the 2012 Lindbergh Prize for Innovation. "We believe that the development of the Volocopter holds significant promise to radically change short distance transportation," said Erik Lindbergh. "It has a long development path ahead, but if this innovative design reaches the commercial market it will dramatically change the way we move about the planet."

Volocopter VC200 First Flight

As for safety, the team notes that an integral part of the safety of the Volocopter is the redundancy of its components, such that the Volocopter is safe to fly even if several drive units fail. (Even if the range extender fails, a safe landing is ensured by additional batteries.) The Volocopters are fitted with a parachute that lets the entire aircraft sink to the ground in the case of an emergency.

Volocopter VC200: Assembly at GreenTec Awards, Berlin 2013

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More information: www.e-volo.com/

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Nov 23, 2013
The problem with multiple tiny rotors instead of one large is that there's much more drag, and it takes more power to stay in the air.

Nov 23, 2013
The edges are also not managed re 'defrayed' vorticies, so there are massive losses.
Light a cigarette and walk around - so much to discover re lost lift, vorticies and updrafts by virtue of smoke flow - so very much to discover yet seems to have been ignored - yet again !

Nov 23, 2013
Look how much extra weight goes into the structure to be able to house all of the extra rotors. It's like half the craft's mass and drag is from just making room for those rotors, which is more than a bit ridiculous.

Nov 23, 2013
I want one with jet engines.

Nov 23, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 23, 2013
It's indeed green, as hour duration beautiful boondoggles go. I want a jet plane sized ornithopter to emulate those big flying dinosaurs. There's a reason fighter jets look like manta rays. For non dog fight mellow efficiency, advanced blimps seem much more "green" since you get to hover for free.

Nov 23, 2013
There is no reason that you can't combine a lift structure with multiple rotors (as many current designs do) - and then you could have higher speeds, longer flight duration, still have VTOL, and all of the low vibration advantages of this machine and much better energy economy.

Nov 23, 2013
Hmmmm the whole issue of everyone doing the pie in the sky daily commute is that for most people it's not necessary and the car/aircraft thing is a flop - not because it's a bad idea, but it's a pain in the arse to find all the infrastructure to land the things....

Since the design and city / suburban interface is wrong....

But this - I think this could actually work.... to a limited extent, being the cost to time / convenience / landing location ratio.

IF it was used a HIGH SPEED taxi service ($$$$) or as an ambulance etc., around cities - then it would be a very useful thing.

That I think is where the market will be.

Nov 23, 2013

Nov 24, 2013
You guys still around?
I thought that you would have died of old age by now.
You were parroting the same verbiage at the Wrights.
"Polly wants a cracker" *squark*

Nov 24, 2013
If it can fly for a half an hour to an hour on batteries the design is obviously much more efficient and viable than some of the first comments here try to imply.

Nov 24, 2013
The commentares also miss a couple of obvious advantages:

Reundancy: this thing is rather safe

Simplicity: control electronics are much cheaper (and a lot less error prone) than mechanical attitude adjustors and tail rotors.

Maintenance: this thing is VASTLY easier to maintain/service than any regular copter

Maneouverability: using multiple rotors allows you to implement the same agility schemes as in quadcopter toys.

Stabilty: this thing can probably remain stable in much worse wind/weather conditions than any regular copter

Applications: it would lend itself well to difficult rescue operations (skyscrapers, mountain rescues)

Noise: With low noise this thing could be the template for unmanned construction bots like so:

Nov 24, 2013
Remarkable. This looks like it would be much easier to fly than a conventional helocopter or airplane. I might get a pilot's license after all.

On the downside, I don't know if I want hundreds of these things flying over my house.

I also question the "Emmission free" claim, unless they charged the batteries with photovoltaic electricity.

Nov 25, 2013
Remarkable. This looks like it would be much easier to fly than a conventional helocopter or airplane. I might get a pilot's license after all.

If you think flying an airplane or helicopter is hard, then you don't stand a chance in one of these things. I can teach anyone to do a takeoff and landing in an airplane. The hard part is navigating through a complex air traffic system, understanding your performance limits, learning how weather affects flight performance, and so on and so forth.

Nov 25, 2013
I think he was referring to the pure mechanics of flight. If you've ever tried your hand at RC helicopters vs. RC quadcopters you know the latter are MUCH easier to fly.

Nov 25, 2013
There's a reason fighter jets look like manta rays..

Oh, yes, makes sense. We should immediately reshape all lightweight aircrafts, trasnport aircrafts, drones and even wheel barrows and coffee mugs to look like fighter aircraft!!! Much more badass!!!
It's again the influence of the IPCC and Dr No and the Evolutionist Pro Abortion lobby in a global conspiracy against you. Bad people!!!

Nov 25, 2013
I've been following this design for years. Ever since their first prototype that used an exercise ball as their landing gear! It's a pretty badass design.

They intend to have a gas generator onboard to extend the range. The batteries on board would be enough to land if the gas motor died. A huge part of the cost for airplanes is engine maintenance. Electric motors require WAY less maintenance than gas motors. The one gas motor it does have also does not have to be nearly as highly maintained as it is always performing at its optimal range, and is not 'life-critical'.

I would LOVE to fly one of these. It probably wouldn't work out cost/benefit wise, but some sort of extendable wing would be neat to generate lift when moving forward.

Nov 25, 2013
I also just noticed that the rotor pieces themselves are all identical, just placed into different sections of the hub. This means they could be mass produced with ease. This thing is going to be a lot cheaper than a helicopter, with most of the cost going into the batteries.

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