Strap a yoga ball to 16 horizontally rotating propellers and apparently you can claim a world’s first. German aircraft company E-Volo slapped together something they’re calling a Multicopter and recently they achieved the first manned flight that lasted about 90 seconds.
If the prototype looks familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen a variety of quadricopter in the last few years, the most notable being Parrot’s A.R. Drone. However, up until this point all them have been too small to lift a person off the ground.
The Multicopter is controlled using a wireless remote and apparently will float, much in the same fashion as Parrot’s quadricopter, without any human input, though it’s not clear if E-Volo has incorporated a variety of sensors unlike the A.R. Drone. However, there are a set of onboard computers that calculate the rotational speed of the propellers and thus control altitude and the direction of travel.
This version of the multicopter is powered purely on battery juice, but the company says that they might develop a gas and electric hybrid version which would increase flight times from 10-30 minutes to perhaps an hour.
We’re really not sure what we would do with a multicopter. In fact, it reminds us of the Segway – cool tech but not really practical in any application. Then again, the military could surely use somethings like this to perform recon, though it might be a bit too large and manned flight is slowly being eliminated from their strategy.