"Awesome stuff" Also an 'awesome lot of stuff' to maintain, or go wrong.
With good fly-by-wire software this could be very safe in the sense that it could handle multiple failures without making the aircraft unstable or uncontrollable. I don't see it mechanically more complex as a twin-prop and it's certainly simpler than a helicopter.
200 mph and 200 mile range is very optimistic and would take quite a high density battery. Nothing was said about service ceiling or payload weight. Even conventional aircraft are greatly affected by air temperature and air density at altitude. VTOL with small props would be affected even more. Folding all those propellers into bullet shaped pods would involve a lot of moving parts which have the potential to fail due to dust, sand, rain, and ice. I have to say that the design is interesting but scaling up from small VTOL drones and making this thing aerodynamically clean enough to fly 200 mph with a useful payload will be very unlikely. Eliminate eight pods and the VTOL capability and this might be a viable electric powered conventional airplane.
The path from concept to reality is a long one. Nice dream though. Looks like an awful lot of electric motors and therefore battery power (heavy). Maybe it will be able to carry a pilot but I'd love to see the weight calc math.
Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters both 'work'. Transitioning from one to another is apparently a big challenge (V-22). Because of the many motor/prop combinations, perhaps that will be easier with this design. The rotor disk loading is still incredibly high (compared to an R-22) ...and as for the $200K price point...good luck...
All that said, I would love to have envisioned..
The Spruce Duck
Get back to us when they get one built and airborne, preferably more than a few times, and also once they strap in one of those whole-aircraft-parachutes.
Bob, I appreciate where you're coming from but, as I understand the current state of the art (from a piece about drones), electrically driven rotors scale up linearly. So unlike IC or turbine engines, there's no economies of scale or of cost from using fewer electrically driven rotors of greater power than more of lesser power. However, the 4 cruise props are still dead weight on take-off & landing & the 12 lift rotors are dead weight while cruising. There's no mention of whether or not there can be more cargo or range using short take-off & landing instead of vertical.
As far as saving energy by taking off like a regular plane, why not be plugged in for vertical takeoff and then dump the plug a couple of hundred feet into the air (heck even have it on a retractable reel)? Needs a lightweight quasiturbine engine with coils inside to generate electricity from gas and that should up the range. I remember years ago there was a plane that was crash proof because of how they oriented the wings to the planes center of gravity. Now if they could bring the props in closer and do more of a bi-plane concept to increase lift with closer in shorter wings and have the wings fold in when it lands you could almost go in a parking space with one.
This actually looks viable. Electric motors are very simple and reliable compared to turbines or IC engines and also lighter and more efficient. The spinning can just has rare earth magnet holders and the coils are stationary so it is just a shaft on bearings. The controllers may be a weak point but multiple redundancy should make the whole unit reliable enough. No flaps or LE extensions needed in the wings which makes wings much simpler. No variable pitch mechanisms in the props, although fold-back props are a little bit more complex they are nowhere near as hard to do as VP. Wingtip props can be used to minimize vortex at cruise speeds like the flying flapjack. This design could also use STOL to save power if VTOL is not needed, and in some situations WillieNAz's idea of a tether may save some juice. The beauty of a true VTOL design is that, with computers doing the flying and ATC you have the potential of efficient point to point flight without airports nor conversion to "car form" for the last few miles of travel (The only viable "flying car" scheme IMHO, forget the "car" bit completely). I suspect batteries, regulators and patents are the major stumbling blocks now.