Perhaps the flying car concept is flawed. Do we really need cars that fly, or is finding a better way to get around simply the answer? If the latter rings true, this machine – known as the Volocopter VC200 – could be barking up the right tree.
Built by German firm e-volo, the Volocopter builds off the conventional thinking of a helicopter, but integrates new technology and streamlining found in modern drone quadcopters. That could make it ultimately more accessible and safer for everyday people to use.
Rather than use a combustion engine, the Volocopter draws power from an electric battery pack and sends that juice to 18 individual rotor blades. The blades provide lift and unlike a helicopter increasing pitch to gain speed, the Volocopter simply changes the rotary speed of individual blades to accelerate forward or slow down.
The sheer number of blades help to increase vehicle safety in the case of component failure, and the aircraft also integrates a parachute system for controlled emergency descent as well as a built-in radar collision avoidance system for when you’re zipping through the air. Current technology allots for a 20 to 30 minute flight time with one hour plus flight times said to be achievable in the coming years due to better battery technology or combustion engine range extenders.
The Volocopter doesn’t fit Germany’s current aviation rules for sport helicopters, so e-volo is working directly with the government to craft those rules and certify the copter in the process. According to Wired, when the copter does receive the go ahead from German aviation officials, the company will sell its two-passenger variant for around $340,000.
A larger commercial version with seating for four to six is being planned. CEO Alexander Zosel told the magazine that he hopes to bring an advanced version of that multicopter to next summer’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow in Wisconsin.
Though the price would likely have to drop considerably before it becomes a flying vehicle for the masses, it is a highly exciting leap in an ingenious direction of personal aviation.
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