Between unmanned cars, drones and Amazon’s Alexa, it won’t be long before our society’s level of technology will resemble that of Minority Report (hopefully without the dystopian pre-crime prosecution). The sleek, unmanned vehicles depicted in the film are more or less a technical reality, unless of course you consider the ability to drive vertically up walls. Good news: until that day comes, your vertical ascension needs can be handily met by the revolutionary Volocopter- a passenger-toting quadcopter drone with VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) functionality. That’s right- the Volocopter, which comes equipped with two seats, 18 rotors and an easy-to-use joystick, has exited the prototype stage and will soon be ready for purchase. The design is touted by its designers as “characteristically German”- easy to use, “pleasantly quiet”, reliable (extra rotors, sturdy design and robust batteries provide triple-redundancies against mid-flight malfunctions) and built to last a long time. The emission-free electric platform has a max payload of 160 kilograms, and the company, based out of Bruchsal, is currently working with German aviation authorities to create a whole new category of rules to accommodate what they call a “light sport multicopter”. The biggest limiting technological factor is currently the battery pack, which allows for a maximum flight time of thirty minutes. Given the light weight of the Volocopter (a nimble 290 kilograms sans payload) the maximum range of 27 kilometers is more than respectable. Furthermore, the integration of “additional battery capacity to extend range and flight time” has been stated as a possible purchasable option. The unit is also equipped with a sophisticated sensor array featuring gyroscopes, acceleration sensors, magnetic field measurement sensors and manometers, as well as being fully network integrated via data-transferring polymer optical fibers. It’s all very cutting edge, and outdoor demonstrations planned for Dubai and Wisconsin in the next few months will be sure to impress. Here’s to German engineering.
written by Tobin Lavelle on 2017-08-04