Aircraft

SureFly octocopter to make first manned flight in January

SureFly octocopter to make fir...
The Workhorse SureFly – soon taking humans into the sky?
The Workhorse SureFly – soon taking humans into the sky?
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The Workhorse SureFly should sell for around $200,000
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The Workhorse SureFly should sell for around $200,000
The Workhorse SureFly weighs 1,100 lb (499 kg)
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The Workhorse SureFly weighs 1,100 lb (499 kg)
The Workhorse SureFly has an estimated range of 70 miles with a pilot and passenger
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The Workhorse SureFly has an estimated range of 70 miles with a pilot and passenger
The Workhorse SureFly – soon taking humans into the sky?
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The Workhorse SureFly – soon taking humans into the sky?
The Workhorse SureFly has a gas combustion engine that generates electricity to run the eight electric motors
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The Workhorse SureFly has a gas combustion engine that generates electricity to run the eight electric motors
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It was back in June that we first heard about Workhorse's SureFly, a carbon fiber-bodied octocopter designed to carry two people. Well, if everything works out, it will be making its first manned flight on Jan. 8th in Las Vegas, ahead of the CES trade show where it will be on static display.

Billed as being "the world's first personal electric hybrid octocopter," the 1,100-lb (499-kg) SureFly has four propeller arms with two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each one, along with a gas combustion engine that generates electricity to run the eight electric motors. There are also two lithium battery packs that can take over in case the engine fails, plus the final version should be equipped with an emergency parachute.

It has a claimed top speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), and an estimated range of 70 miles with a pilot and passenger. Plans call for early versions of the aircraft to be pilot-operated via a joystick-type controller, with future models being capable of autonomous flight and payloads of up to 400 lb (181 kg).

The Workhorse SureFly weighs 1,100 lb (499 kg)
The Workhorse SureFly weighs 1,100 lb (499 kg)

The Jan. 8th date is subject to variables such as weather, regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, and from local municipalities. Workhorse is ultimately aiming for full certification by late 2019, and a price tag of around US$200,000.

"The response to SureFly's public displays has been enthusiastic, and while we have much work ahead of us in our march toward certification, this first test flight represents a significant milestone for the project," says CEO Stephen Burns.

Source: Workhorse

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9 comments
guzmanchinky
Flying a normal helicopter (unless it has a price tag of millions and is equipped with extensive fly by wire and autopilot controls) is quite intense to fly, and when things go wrong often counter-intuitive to save. I wonder if these kinds of helicopters will be far easier to fly (akin to a self stabilizing drone) and with the blank space in the middle easily equipped with a BRS parachute in case of a collision or complete malfunction...
riczero-b
Admirably, SureFly have gone for a real world solution to the range problem to produce a workable and saleable polycopter.. As batteries and motors develops they can be swapped for the hybrid kit'
Deres
For simple physics reasons, such a design cannot compete with a normal helicopter. In fact, it is more efficient to have a large rotor turning slowy that 4 contrarotating rotors turning at high speed. The quad rotor is only interessant as it is less complex especially at small size. And I do not talk about the need to convert mechnaical energy to electrical energy plus the weight of the battery pack ...
Daishi
Ehang 184 that was announced at CES is another passenger drone in this space. They have flown it without a passenger but I don't think it has done a manned test flight yet either. I realize they aren't just relying on batteries but I don't expect battery powered manned helicopters will see much success any time soon for the reasons Deres brings up. Several massive technological breakthroughs will be required before such a vehicle is viable for anything but ridiculously short flight times.
ljaques
I'd simply love to fly one of these! I'm sure a software AI will be included to reduce the pilot load to 3% or something piddly. Town and city regulations should be a whole 'nother kettle of fish to deal with. I'm hoping that even better battery tech will be available soonest, allowing the travel time to triple. Anything commercial will have to stock up on beaucoup battery packs, because slow charge times would preclude a pack from being used more than a couple times a day, with cooling time after each charge and each discharge. Good luck, Workhorse, because whoever gets a decent machine out first wins the largest pot of gold, which will drive it to even better heights and achievements.
CharlieSeattle
Mass produced and cheap flying cars will bring only crashing drunk drivers and suicide attacks to your home, business, school, stadium, military base or Congress.
Graeme S
Great to see things fly ..... but if we are going to herald in a new flying infrastructure then we better make it safe, and not just for those in the flying machines, but also those on the ground.
With the hype of urban flying and the prospect of having quicker transport out of congested cities it behooves all inventors, legislative bureaucracies, to remain focused on what will be safe. The idea of a flying machine flying overhead a bunch of people when there is a problem with the machine, it is not comforting to accept that it be able to silently fall earthward with the saving parachute deployed as it crushes the people below and then creates a traffic jam with its injuries , is just not worth thinking about.
If we are to have a new transport system it must be safe for all people, and simply put we are not there yet, what is needed is the elimination of the Single point of failure that exists in all these flying machines.
A helicopter can be manoeuvred whilst descending in an autorotation, there is the strong possibility it can be manoeuvred away from the people below, whereas with a failure of any of the flying machines rotors and or motors, it ends in an uncontrolled parachute landing, this is not good enough.
What is needed is the elimination of SPoF which must lead to redundancy in all the needed flying controls, just like every other flying plane, helicopter, gyrocopter etc, if it flies it must always be controllable, your life and mine depends on it ... we are all pedestrians.
windykites
Why not have three-bladed props for extra lift, and why not just use the gas engine to drive the props through shafts, thus eliminating the electric motors, and heavy battery pack?
PaulYak
I for one can not wait until these are as affordable and plentiful as cars are today. With great safety with air lane controls from super computers and then no road maintenance and congestion the flying should be a nice experience for all.
These vehicles will be a 1 joystick operation and as all the kids today are fully trained in how to use that type of control, the training will be simple and very basic with computer safety systems ensuring no drunk idiots will cause problems. The BRS chutes will be the final link for total shutdown problems which should be very rare as they all seem to have multi rotor/power plant systems. Bring them on guys!!