Thomas Senkel of e-volo made the first manned flight with an e-powered multicopter at an airstrip in the southwest of Germany. The ‘e-volo’ multicopter is a prototype personal transport vehicle, steerable via joystock and powered by sixteen propellers to hover in the air.
‘e-volo’, altitude, directional control, and balance are automatically managed by onboard computers, while the driver steers by using a simple joystick. the designers note that the program could be integrated with GPS and obstacle detection systems to enable unmanned flight. Each of the vehicle’s sixteen motors uses an off-the-shelf battery and is independently controlled, easing maintenance and repairs.
The craft is energy and economically efficient, with a one-hour flight estimated to cost about 6 euros’ worth of electricity. Redundancy engineering permits ‘e-volo’ to land safely even if up to four of its motors fail, and the vehicle can also be protected by safety parachute. currently ‘e-volo’ should permit flights of up to 20 minutes, but by integrating a hybrid gas system, or as the capacity of batteries increases, the engineering team suggests that flights could last over an hour.
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