Eurocopter's X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator combined the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter with the fast cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft by basically installing two propellers on short-span fixed wings to supplement the helicopter's five-blade main rotor system. Now a new type of remote control model aircraft is looking to combine the hover capabilities of a helicopter with the ability to fly like an airplane in a completely different design. Instead of the quadricopter design employed by the Parrot AR Drone, the Quadshot uses a "flying wing" design with its four rotors allowing it to hover vertically like a helicopter or turn horizontal and swoop through the air like a stunt plane.
The Quadshot is being developed by Santa Cruz engineers Piotr Esden-Tempski, Chris Forrette, Jeff Gibboney, and Pranay Sinha and features a body consisting of a one meter (39 inch)-long curved wing, that has four motors/rotors located along its length. That wing is made of EPP foam, containing a carbon fiber spar for added strength. Even though the rotors aren't arranged in the symmetrical X layout used by most quadricopters, video shot by the inventors seems to indicate that it still performs helicopter-like flight quite well.
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With a reported "flip of a switch," however, the Quadshot can be flown like a regular fixed-wing airplane. Should you want to really put it through its paces, there's even a stunt-specific aerobatic flight mode, while a built-in camera mount lets users record crazy POV footage from onboard. When it's time to land, the aircraft just goes back to heli mode, and settles back-end-first onto the ground.
All of this switching back and forth is made possible by the Quadshot's electronic brain, named Lisa/M. Among other things, Lisa features an Inertial Measurement Unit, which contains accelerometers and gyroscopes that let the system know which way the aircraft is pointing, and how fast its rotors are rotating. By combining that information with user commands, Lisa is able to make the different flight modes possible. Lisa is also open-source, so users can tweak "her" to perform specific functions as they think of them.
The inventors are currently in the process of raising funds from potential buyers, in order to finance large-scale commercial production. A pledge of US$300 will reserve you a fully-assembled Quadshot, once they're ready to go. The anticipated regular retail price is $400.
The video below shows a prototype in action.