Aircraft

AT Transporter multirotor "air car" carries cargo or people in detachable pods

AT Transporter multirotor "air...
The AT Transporter technology demonstrator is already built and being flown
The AT Transporter technology demonstrator is already built and being flown
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The AT Transporter technology demonstrator is already built and being flown
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The AT Transporter technology demonstrator is already built and being flown
The AT Transporter can be fitted with an emergency relief loadout
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The AT Transporter can be fitted with an emergency relief loadout
The AT Transporter carries passenger or cargo pods that attach to the airframe between the landing skids
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The AT Transporter carries passenger or cargo pods that attach to the airframe between the landing skids
The AT Transporter is designed for long-range, long-endurance flight
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The AT Transporter is designed for long-range, long-endurance flight
The AT Transporter is powered by four combustion engines, giving this multirotor extreme power, endurance and practicality
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The AT Transporter is powered by four combustion engines, giving this multirotor extreme power, endurance and practicality

There are plenty of companies out there working on VTOL manned multirotor designs, from Joby Aviation and eVolo to Jetpack Aviation and Russia's Hoversurf. But there's only one group we're aware of that's actually already built and tested a vehicle capable of doing 70 mph (113 km/h) on the highway and flying 10,000 feet in the air – and that's Advanced Tactics, Inc, (AT) out of Torrance, California, which has just announced the AT Transporter, a multi-mission quadcopter capable of carrying up to six people or 1,200 lb (544 kg) of cargo.

AT's Black Knight Transformer is a gigantic thing, and it's ahead of the rest of the crowd because it's not waiting around on battery technology to make it viable. Focused on military applications, the pilot-optional aircraft uses gasoline motors instead of electric ones to power its propellers, giving it huge range and immediate refueling advantages over its electric brethren.

Now, the company is striking out on a pure VTOL multirotor project without the roadable elements. The AT Transporter is a modular, heavy-lift VTOL platform that boasts multi-mission capabilities thanks to detachable passenger/cargo modules that clip in under the airframe, and it's got some pretty impressive performance stats.

The AT Transporter carries passenger or cargo pods that attach to the airframe between the landing skids
The AT Transporter carries passenger or cargo pods that attach to the airframe between the landing skids

The current prototype, AT's technology demonstrator, can carry up to three people or 800 lb (363 kg) of cargo, and flies at up to 200 mph (322 km/h) with an endurance up to five hours – and being gasoline-powered it could even be filled up at your local neighborhood gas station if need be. There's absolutely nothing in the electric world that can pull those kinds of figures yet, as current battery technology limits most of these things to 20 minute-odd flight times.

But there's also a turbocharged version in the works that bumps things up considerably. It will carry up to six people, or over 1,200 lb (544 kg) of cargo, with an endurance of seven or more hours, a range up to 700 nautical miles (805 mi, 1,296 km) and a top speed around 220 mph (354 km/h). It'd take a brave passenger to sit in this thing at 25,000 feet.

AT is touting the Transporter's multi-mission capabilities. It can be used as a firefighting tool, dropping 1,200 lb of water at precise locations. It can move supplies in and out of disaster areas, using a winch to lower things where landing is impossible. And it can be fitted with floats for water rescue, or be fitted out to carry stretchers for medical evacuations.

Like the Black Knight, it's pilot-optional. This means that the pilot could be on board, they could be remotely controlling it from the ground, or it could be flying autonomously.

The AT Transporter is powered by four combustion engines, giving this multirotor extreme power, endurance and practicality
The AT Transporter is powered by four combustion engines, giving this multirotor extreme power, endurance and practicality

When it's time to move it, you just need to remove four locking bolts and hit a button, and the Transporter will fold itself down into a 5-ft-high, 5-ft-wide (1.5 x 1.5 m) shape that'll fit in a shipping container or in the back of a V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor.

The three-passenger version is set to sell for US$249,000, and the six-passenger for US$395,000 – those are estimated prices at this point, and the passenger pods won't be available until early 2018. It'll be interesting to see how these things go through certification.

Source: Advanced Tactics

7 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
It is like the quad copter version of the Sky Crane / Air Crane.
Gill Davis
They missed the point, one of the gas engines could power 4 electric motors for lighter weight, better control and less noise.
Jonathan Colvin
Entirely the wrong way to go, they should have a single engine (or at most twins, for redundancy) driving a generator and electric motors driving the props, with supercaps for boost/storage. Far simpler and easier to control.
CAVUMark
The new Mash 4077 delivery vehicle. It needs a big red cross.
EH
The commenters have obviously never run the numbers on electric transmission for airplanes - it's heavy and gets you very little in terms of performance in any way. Using belt drive would be a lot more practical, but still of questionable advantage. The low prop diameter and the lack of shrouds are more reasonable things to question about the design, making its fuel consumption, power and engine weight more than they really need to be. A system to keep the pod level in forward flight is also needed or the passengers will be hanging from their seat-belts the whole way. But the design as it is is the simplest that will fly with good performance, so miles ahead of most of the competition.
noteugene
Some Einstein is going to take this to his garage, take it apart and slightly mofify it, sell it in kits. The way this thing is made, a lot of it could be made with a desktop printer. Maybe he'lk just sell downloadable plans. I'm looking at an $80k flying apparatus, not $395k.
Bruce H. Anderson
There are smaller multi-rotors that are gas-electric. The gas provides range, and the electric provides more instantaneous response. The quick response is important in smaller drones, but this one is a beast and less affected by breezes. The ability to operate for longer than 15 minutes, and make use of existing fueling infrastructure, makes it a more likely candidate for an air taxi than anything else I've seen.