I don't know about you, but personally I've been waiting patiently since I was a kid for the jet packs we were promised to hit the market. I had visions of zipping around the neighborhood like Flash Gordon.
At the same time, I've been intrigued by the DIY drone robot creations that have popped up recently using multiple props. They seem extremely stable, and reasonably low cost. So, why not have the best of both worlds? How about a multi-prop copter with enough power to carry an average sized human through the air?
That's exactly what the e-volo team in Germany set out to do with considerable success.
The e-volo multicopter weighs 80 kb including its lithium batteries, which classifies it as an ultralight. The test flight shown in the video below lasted 90 seconds, but the team is confident that the current design is capable of flights in the 10 to 30 minute range, with much longer flights with future design improvements.
One tremendous advantage of the e-volo multicopter design is that like its smaller DIY drone cousins, most of the control and balance issues are handled by dedicated onboard computers and sensors. The pilot can manage the multicopter in flight using a simple joystick without having to worry about stalling, pitch control, and other troublesome demands on attention. In many ways, the multicopter is a robotic drone carrying its human cargo piggyback.
Is it safe? That's hard to say, though certainly the test pilot felt confident enough to risk it. The design is redundant enough that the multicopter can sustain stable flight operation even if it looses 4 our of its 16 motors.
(Via e-volo - Multicopter.)