Aircraft

Surefly passenger drone performs first manned flight

The Surefly takes to the air with a passenger for the first time
The Surefly takes to the air with a passenger for the first time
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The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)
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The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)
Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
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Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
The flying taxi scene is now a bustling place, but some are moving faster than others.
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The flying taxi scene is now a bustling place, but some are moving faster than others.
Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
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Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)
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The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)
Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
6/8
Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now put a person inside and lifted it into the air for the first time.
The flying taxi scene is now a bustling place, but some are moving faster than others
7/8
The flying taxi scene is now a bustling place, but some are moving faster than others
The Surefly takes to the air with a passenger for the first time
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The Surefly takes to the air with a passenger for the first time

The flying taxi scene is now a bustling place, but some are moving faster than others. Where some startups have taken years to move past the prototype stage, others are launching right into things. Workhorse first unveiled its Surefly flying car at the Paris Air Show in June last year, and has now sent it into the air with a person inside for the first time.

Workhorse has a number of electric vehicles under development, including electric pickup trucks and delivery vans that launch drones from the roof to cover the last leg. The Surefly has to be the most ambitious, however, designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to power eight contra-rotating propellors and carry up to 400 lb (180 kg) over a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km).

Back in January, it received an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, which enabled it to carry out controlled test flights in the US. The company had expected to carry out its first ever manned flights as part of a demonstration at CES that month, but those plans were foiled by some mild drizzle that posed a threat to the prototype aircraft's electrical systems.

The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)
The Surefly passenger drone is designed to use a mix of diesel and electricity to cover a range of approximately 70 mi ( 112 km)

There were no such obstacles as the Surefly lifted off outside of Cincinnati recently, with Chief Operating Officer John Graber at the controls. The video, it has to be said, is a little underwhelming, with the aircraft only hovering a foot or so above the ground. But in the field of aviation a first manned flight is certainly a noteworthy milestone. Check it out below.

SureFly Has Taken Flight

10 comments
WilliamSager
In addition to cutting down traffic in large cities a modified version of this large electric drone would work great on our new Frigates/Destroyers as long as we ensure they have hybrid power plants with extra electricity. Imagine a pair of self charging drones flying a set pre programmed search patterns occasionally dipping a sonar into the water and moving on. This saves on pilots as well as the number of crew men needed to work on the vehicles. About the only labor required would be adding a weapon.
Daishi
I think the critics of these have yet to be proven wrong. They got it just high enough off the ground for it to wobble before setting it down again and that was using a combustion powered generator. If you are going to use a combustion engine anyway you could just direct drive the motors with less efficiency loss. The problem with using a battery is that in order to deliver enough cells for the power and duration needed would add too much weight for it to get off the ground. They said it will have 5 mins of battery to allow landing in an engine failure but didn't say that 5 minutes of battery (and associated weight) was in it for the test flight which is probably safe to assume was not. They may be full orders of magnitude away from the power density needed to do this.
Towerman
Excellent....glad to see this moving forward, but why the chicken sticks ? Volo even other home brew manned multi's fly fine out the box, with the Heroflyer outmaneuvering everyone on the market, it's flying ability is outstanding.
MD
Daishi, you are correct. Simple Fact is, battery powered flight isn't scalable... Double the batteries doesn't equal double the flight time.... any additional 1kg of liquid fuel does more than 30kg of additional batteries... This is why a Piquid fueled Gen-set is the way to go with any "hybrid aircraft.. But as Aircraft do not operate in a "regenerative state" for very much of their flight time, mechanical drive systems are actually more advantageous, as generator plus motors for electric main thrust propulsors are much weightier than a straight mechanical system with not a lot of fat for efficiency variance.. VTOL aircraft are simply very inefficient, and multirotors are the least efficient. (Convertable STOL / Fixed wing aircraft are the only economic reason why a VTOL multirotor configuration should be chosen for any aircraft with a desired endurance/range more than a few minutes / miles.) For long range, wings beat rotors any day, if one creates a "wings optional" convertable plane, we may have the optimal solution.
Rehab
Don't believe we'll be seeing these craft in the air anytime soon.
ePhoto1
I think they need to hire Axel Borg. Go to youtube and look up: chAIR -Manned drone Episode 24 -Playtime! Electric VTOL Axel Borg His actually goes places and is stable enough to land balanced with a relatively tiny footprint.
ljaques
This appears to be their troll for more money to produce it. The chicken sticks <g> are probably their way of showing potential investors that they'll be careful with funds. IOW, chicken & pony show, but I wish them luck. I think Ehang will gather the market on that one with a much sleeker and smoother-flying rig, though these guys may be the first to get US air-worthiness points.
highlandboy
With multi rotor craft the throttle control for ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)motors due to lags and torque curves create major problems even with computer control. This has been overcome on several ICE driven models by reducing the number of rotors (longer blades) or having directional narcels (increased mechanical complexity). The instant torque and flat power curve at any RPM is a major advantage of electrical motors. This is why most multi-rotor (including small drones) use electrical motors. Having instantaneous control of the current and hence lift without physical controls (like throttle bodies) also simplifys the equation. However the energy density of hydrocarbon fuels is far in excess of battery storage, hence the hybrid nature of most systems which are large enough to move people but meet VTOL and small foot print criteria.
Towerman
Axel borg ?? clearly you have not seen heroflyer, you'll be blown away, newatlas must do a review of it, funny that it seems they have not contacted them yet !
SimonClarke
Only the uneducated would think that battery technology is not up to sustained rotorcraft flight. These are practical aircraft.