Thursday, April 7, 2016
Volocopter performs first manned flights, changing the helicopter world - Charles D'Alberto
The multicopter developer e-volo has announced the first manned flights of its personal aerial vehicle, the Volocopter VC200.
The two-seat Volocopter VC200, which has already made more than 100 test flights in an unmanned configuration, received authorization to fly as an ultralight aircraft from German aviation authorities in February 2016. The first manned flight of the multicopter was performed by e-volo managing director Alexander Zosel on March 30, 2016, on an airfield in Southern Germany.
In a press release, Zosel described the flight as “totally awesome” and “seriously unbelievable.”
“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,” he stated.
Designed to be “so safe and easy to fly, literally anyone can command it,” the Volocopter is piloted one-handedly with a single joystick that incorporates an altitude control thumb lever. The aircraft holds its position automatically when the pilot releases the control, a feature Zosel demonstrated by removing his hand from the joystick to applaud his team during the premiere manned flight.
E-volo managing director Alexander Zosel gives a thumbs-up to his team during his first manned flight of the Volocopter VC200. E-volo Photo
According to e-volo, the all-electric aircraft underwent extensive safety testing prior to Zosel’s flight, including tests in which propulsion motors and batteries were switched off during flight, and wrong information from simulated “defective” sensors was fed into the flight control system. Unmanned flights were also carried out in turbulent weather conditions.
E-volo’s next goal is to receive type certification for the aircraft, and Zosel’s flight marks the beginning of a three-phase manned test program for the VC200. In the first phase, e-volo will conduct low altitude flights at a maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour (13 knots). The second phase will involve medium-altitude flights at speeds up to 50 km/h (27 knots), while the third phase will validate the VC200 at higher altitudes and throughout its full speed range, up to 100 km/h (54 knots).
Technology assistance for the VC200 has been provided by German drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies, which was recently acquired by Intel Corporation. Through the shareholding position of Ascending Technologies, Intel Capital has now become a direct shareholder in e-volo.
“Intel congratulates e-volo on this accomplishment,” stated Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of the New Technology Group at Intel. “Technology developed by Ascending Technologies assists in the flight controls, motor electronics and key elements that extend multi-rotor UAV technology to this new type of aircraft. We look forward to aiding the development of more manned and unmanned vehicles in the future.”