The head-first VTOL personal aircraft concept not for the faint of heart
Yes, that's a head poking out the end of this terrifying personal flight concept. Called the Dart Flyer, it can essentially be looked upon as a quadcopter with a winged pilot cocoon on top of it. Definitely not one for nervous flyers, it's been submitted as a contender in the GoFly challenge, sponsored by Boeing.
The Dart Flyer concept comes from aircraft design company Ray Research AG, and is based on a small-scale, remote-control tailsitter aircraft that the company believes can be effectively scaled up into a one-man aircraft that could turn the human body into a flying missile with your noggin as the warhead.
If it looks a little sketchy to you, fear not. The creator says its four electric rotors use "fail-safe electric propulsion," that it flies "without any single point of failure," and "guarantees that each of the four motors provides at least 75 percent power, even after any kind of failure." You'll forgive us if we don't volunteer to put those claims to the test.
The idea is that you'd strap yourself into that tight cocoon, looking like you're about to be shot out of a cannon. You'd then take off vertically, before to a horizontal orientation to make use of the battery-saving lift and range those small wings could provide.
Those wings span just 2.4 m (7.9 ft) and the concept has a height of just 2 m (6.6 ft), meaning it would fit in most parking spaces. We've no concept of what the controls might look like inside the aircraft, but we can definitely recommend booking a physio after each flight – and a heart specialist beforehand.
The Dart Flyer has been submitted as an entry to the GoFly contest, which challenges entrants to come up with a personal flight machine that can travel 20 miles (32 km) with a single pilot on board, in a "safe, useful and thrilling" manner – this aircraft definitely has the "thrilling" part covered.
Sponsored by Boeing, GoFly is offering US$20,000 prizes for first-round technical paper submissions, and US$50,000 prizes for VTOL tech demonstrations. The contest will end with a fly-off on October 1, 2019, where a million-dollar prize awaits the best overall score, as well as quarter-million-dollar prizes for the quietest and smallest entries, and US$100,000 for "disruptive advancement of the state of the art."
This will be a fun contest to keep an eye on – especially if Ray Aircraft manages to build this Dart Flyer into a full-size prototype and fly it manned.
Meanwhile, here's a video of it on a small scale.