Aircraft

CycloTech shows first flight of its cyclo-rotor eVTOL prototype

CycloTech shows first flight o...
Cyclotech's 80-kg electric demonstrator, featuring its remarkable "Cyclogyro" propulsion system
Cyclotech's 80-kg electric demonstrator, featuring its remarkable "Cyclogyro" propulsion system
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Cyclotech's 80-kg electric demonstrator, featuring its remarkable "Cyclogyro" propulsion system
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Cyclotech's 80-kg electric demonstrator, featuring its remarkable "Cyclogyro" propulsion system
Cyclotech's 83 kg test demonstrator has completed its first flight test
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Cyclotech's 83 kg test demonstrator has completed its first flight test
The Voith-Schneider propulsion system uses spinning barrels, each fitted with variable-pitch blades that re-orient themselves constantly as the barrel rotates to direct thrust
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The Voith-Schneider propulsion system uses spinning barrels, each fitted with variable-pitch blades that re-orient themselves constantly as the barrel rotates to direct thrust
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The fascinating CycloTech eVTOL prototype has taken its first flight tests, running its paddle steamer-style "Cyclogiro" propulsion system, which offers some interesting advantages over typical multirotor-style designs.

The Cyclogiro system uses Voith-Schneider propellers instead of rotors, effectively packaging its propulsion systems as fast-spinning barrels. Each barrel has a number of variable-pitch blades around it, and the pitch of those blades varies constantly as the barrel spins. That allows the flight control software on these things to vector thrust very quickly in 360 degrees at each barrel, without having to speed up or slow down the rotation.

Like regular rotors with variable-pitch blades, this means an aircraft that flies on these things can operate on a range of different fuel systems, including fossil fuels that can't deliver instant torque like electric motors can. Unlike variable-pitch rotors, this system can also point thrust straight downwards, forwards, backwards or anywhere in between; this is the system you want if you need to fly in a vertical orientation or upside down.

The Voith-Schneider propulsion system uses spinning barrels, each fitted with variable-pitch blades that re-orient themselves constantly as the barrel rotates to direct thrust
The Voith-Schneider propulsion system uses spinning barrels, each fitted with variable-pitch blades that re-orient themselves constantly as the barrel rotates to direct thrust

Russia's Foundation for Advanced Research has already flown a 60 kg (132 lb) prototype of a Cyclogiro VTOL aircraft, which it intends to develop into a long-range, hybrid 6-seater. Now CycloTech has followed up with the first flight video of its 83 kg (183 lb) technology demonstrator platform.

The aircraft, based on a 4-barrel design intended to mimic the dynamics it will be pursuing with a future 5-seat air taxi model, is shown in a tethered indoor takeoff, hover and land test. It seems to be pretty stable – unsurprising given the lack of wind – and the team has left the sound on so we can hear the noise profile, even if it is drowned out somewhat by some very exciting bleepy, bloopy music. As is tradition for promotional videos of otherwise rather unexciting technical tests.

We're still waiting to learn how this system performs in terms of thrust and efficiency.

Enjoy the video below.

CycloTech First Flight

Source: CycloTech

View gallery - 3 images
24 comments
24 comments
Kevin Cloete
Looks very efficient and stable. Hope to see a lot of support for this concept.
Perhaps a rotating frame for the motors could create a cool UFO!
vtolGuy
If nothing else, it offers a very compact approach to VTOL that multirotors cannot offer without efficiency loss. I do wonder how just how efficient the Vorth-Schneider approach is, however. Conventional thinking dictates that smaller blade diameter incurs lower static thrust efficiency; does the cyclocopter approach somehow bypass this?

Also, insofar as it's a variable pitch system, I wonder if it's capable of autorotation?
Towerman
Nice concept i feel like pressing the big red switch on top everytime i look at it (yes it looks like one) (its a compliment i like the looks)

Being more efficient than multicopters though i doubt. However it would be great if they make them commercially just like conventional hexas and quads will become mainstream.

Now all we need is that 1000 mile super cap !
DWolvin
Very cool to see something different, but tiny swept area = not going to be efficient. And it's going to sound like a flying dental drill. But I can see it having niche use in places where you need compact lift without rotors, if it can lift a decent amount of weight.
nick101
It works. I'm wondering about efficiency though, do you get more lift for the electricity consumed? In the end that will be the deciding factor.
clay
The area sweep scales linearly and without incurring mach limitations that traditional rotors are hampered with.
Additionally, it has the HUGE potential to be slowed and even (with some novel engineering) reversed... this means you could use this technology to fly subsonic...transonic..supersonic..with the right profiles.. Just as interesting: The ability to slow the blades uniformly, relative to forward flight, means aircraft using this lift method can extend it's altitude while staying within it's stall window. I have followed this method for a couple decades now..and have wondered why it has not been exploited. Those guys in France (maybe it's Germany or Austria, I forget) were doing this 10 years ago. I suppose that motor control has come a LOoooooong way in the past 20 years. God bless Arduino!
clay
One more big benefit, beyond compactness and "readily lending itself to shrouding"... is the ability to fly and hover in almost any orientation.
dugnology
These rotors look like they can be embedded into a wide chord wing.
BlueOak
The bonus news - it can also function as a submarine, perhaps even with downsized blades.
Towerman
@Dwolvin
No it actually sounds very pleasant on the ear, watch the video.

Talk positive... it will be efficient enough...we want this concept to become a commercial reality !

i was very sceptic at first back when they released information on it, but now that i've seen it fly... i am getting more hooked on this concept that i ever thought i'd be !

They will work to optimize efficiency, batteries/fuel cells/supercaps will only get better as well.

I want to see this concept become reality.

@Clay
Now THATS the spirit...it seems like you are just as excited than I about this concept, i too see the vast potential you are talking about !

I hope we hear more of this soon !
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