Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The First Drone Type Helicopter

Ever since this drone thing started to really catch on, the only thing that was on most people's minds was "when are we going to be able to actually sit in one of these while it flies?" Well, the answer to that is still unknown, but it sure won't be too long.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is probably looking at this and pulling all the remaining hairs out of its head. It's had a really tough time dealing with the proliferation of flying drones, their low cost and over-the-counter availability making it virtually impossible to control what was happening in the sky. No wonder, then, that several incidents were reported, one even involving a police helicopter.

The Volocopter would take those problems and multiply them by one hundred, adding in the fact that it's not just an unmanned aerial vehicle now, but we're also dealing with people strapped in these things. And because the drones can't (or won't be allowed to) climb very high, they're in that gray area where if something bad happens, the ground is too close to deploy a parachute (even though it has one), but far enough to cause fatal injuries.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the Volocopter only managed to make its maiden manned flight. Which, according to the pilot, went as smoothly as silk.

“I got in, we did the pre-checks for what felt like maybe 20 seconds, and after that I’d already got the all-clear for flying. I didn’t wait long, I simply pushed the lever upward and the Volocopter simply sprung upward in a single bound. 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. So it’s definitely unbelievable what we’ve achieved here. It’s seriously unbelievable!”

The company behind the Volocopter VC200 is called e-volo, and it has great plans for its machine. Due to its auto-levelling function, the Volocopter is very easy to fly and offers the same feeling as a helicopter, but with far less hassle and a significantly less steep learning curve. e-volo says that when the Volocopter - and other similar vehicles - make it into production, they'll be able to revolutionize the way we look at urban mobility, finally adding that third dimension into our daily commute. Of course, that's just visionary talk as things won't really be that simple, but even so, it's worth keeping an eye on e-volo's Volocopter VC200.

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