Aircraft

Electric 18-rotor Volocopter makes first manned flight

Electric 18-rotor Volocopter m...
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
View 19 Images
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
1/19
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
2/19
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
Part quadcopter, part helicopter and part alien spaceship, e-volo's Volocopter can take off and land vertically and also hover in the air when need be
3/19
Part quadcopter, part helicopter and part alien spaceship, e-volo's Volocopter can take off and land vertically and also hover in the air when need be
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
4/19
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
5/19
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
6/19
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
7/19
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
8/19
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
Part quadcopter, part helicopter and part alien spaceship, e-volo's Volocopter can take off and land vertically and also hover in the air when need be
9/19
Part quadcopter, part helicopter and part alien spaceship, e-volo's Volocopter can take off and land vertically and also hover in the air when need be
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
10/19
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
11/19
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
12/19
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
13/19
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
14/19
The pursuit of personal flight has taken a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
15/19
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
16/19
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
17/19
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
18/19
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go
19/19
Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly, so easy that anyone can apparently have a go

The pursuit of personal flight took a promising, and kind of wacky, step forward today with the electric 18-rotor Volocopter lifting somebody into the air for the very first time. The maiden manned flight went off without a hitch, with the makers intent on using the emission-free aircraft as flying taxis a little further down the road.

Part multicopter, part helicopter and part alien spaceship, e-volo's Volocopter can take off and land vertically and also hover in the air when need be. Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

Despite its complex shape and daunting appearance, the Volocopter is designed to bring personal flight to the masses by being easy to fly – so easy that anyone can apparently have a go. But for now, that privilege has been extended only to e-volo's managing director Alexander Zosel, who took grabbed hold of its single joystick and took the Volocopter to the skies over an airfield in southern Germany on March 30.

"It is definitely a sublime feeling to lift off, fly the first few meters, and then actually take my hand off the joystick and think that, yeah, it's really as if I'm standing on the ground, and then I look down and there are 20-25 meters beneath me," Zosel said. "So it's definitely unbelievable what we've achieved here. It's seriously unbelievable!"

Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)
Built from fiber composite material with a 450 kg (992 lb) take-off weight, nine individual batteries power the all-electric motors and 18 rotors to make for a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph)

Zosel's test flight saw the Volocopter hit speeds of 25 km/h (15 mph) at only low altitudes. This marks the first part of e-volo's test program. The second phase will test the aircraft at speeds of 50 km/h and a medium altitude, with the final phase to raise that to higher altitudes and its top speed of 100 km/h.

The makers have carried out more than 100 test flights in the buildup to this achievement, though these were unmanned and controlled remotely. The makers say that through this testing they have demonstrated the aircraft's ability to fly almost autonomously.

If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years, with a view to eventually offering air taxi services and another form of public transport. They are likely to have some competition, however, with a number of other personal flight machines making promising strides of late. These have included the Malloy Aeronautics Hoverbike, Ehang's 184 AAV personal drone and the Snowstorm electric multicopter, built by students in Singapore.

You can see the Zosel lift-off in the Volocopter in the video below.

Source: e-volo

Dawn of a revolution in urban mobility – first manned Volocopter VC200 flight

20 comments
Mel Tisdale
At least with a conventional helicopter there is the chance of setting it up for autorotation if the power fails - admittedly with some models one needs lightening fast reactions and a lot of luck. (I suppose with the miniscule size of the rotors on this aircraft it might be possible to have an emergency reserve parachute the way some microlights do.
Nik
What happens when the battery expires and you're airborne, or one or more of the rotors stops?
Brian M
All very easy, and technically not much more difficult than building a model multi-rotor - just (a lot) more expensive. The hard bit is getting a useful duration out of the thing (batteries!).
Martin Winlow
"What happens when..." For goodness sake! You are clearly utterly unaware of recent developments in electric flight - I suggest you start your education here... http://www.pipistrel.si/plane/alpha-electro/overview The video would be much more interesting *without* the irritating music but a very intriguing and apparently well-advanced concept with lots of interesting potential applications. I hope we hear a lot more from your company in the near future. Congratulations. MW
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Employ a micro-turbine generator and enjoy long flight times using almost any fuel. Employ a tilting mechanism (little more than a pivot hinge) to a couple of the motors and enjoy pretty high flight speeds / efficiencies. Employ any number of form factors (think a little outside the "make it look like a helicopter" box, guys) to and enjoy far greater rigidity, versatility and utility. This is a wonderful first step, but let's take this thing and run with it!
Rif
@Nik It has 18 propellers, this allows it to continue flying even with multiple propellers / motors stopped.
Rif
@Mel Tisdale If a single main rotor helicopter damage or bend a blade ever so lightly, it will crash. Multi rotors like the Volocopter can damage multiple propellers and still keep flying.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really cool. Perhaps a small fuel cell like the one from Intelligent Energy could help with range and power. A BRS would help with safety.
ChristopherJacobs
As a helicopter pilot, I have these comments: 1. It look incredibly easy to fly... huge plus. 2. The amount of rotors tells me that more can go wrong...and unless this aircraft can autorotate, it will never get FAA certification. From my experience and knowledge of autorotation, I see why it wouldn't - if they can disengage the rotors from the electric mechanism quickly and allow them to freely spin with controls to increase drag. I'm sure they have that all figured out, of course. 3. Being electric is amazing... I've only flown piston-driven helicopters - and mixtures, fuel issues, magneto issues... all that goes out the window. Conclusion: Sweet.
Paul Anthony
I would like to see a test flight (unmanned) where they shall out two or more motors.