German multicopter makes first manned flight.

It had to happen, and it was almost certainly going to be in Germany. Congratulations have to goto the team at e-volo they have possibly created a new manned flight platform, the first for many years.

The platform of choice for many sUAS operators, the multicopter has been super sized to such an extent that manned flight is now possible.

In their own words the team from e-volo have the following to say.

Simple flight for the average person would be a dream come to reality for us. In the next few years we would like to make more of these simple to fly devices available at an affordable price. The flyability of this device, the simple and straight forward piloting making the possibility of flight available to the average person is a goal that we strive towards.

e-volo and their  manned multicopter

The motors as well as control systems will be continuously worked on and developed to allow for extended flight time as well as a more efficient usage of available onboard energy.
Software regarding the 3D obstruction mapping will be improved.

Coming from an ultralight background, safety is written large in our books. Safety in flight will be developed with multiple concepts being hashed out and conceptuated for everyday use.

Optimization of energy usage in charging and durability in battery life is currently one of the largest problems in electrically powered transportation. The future is bright for the battery industry, as such we will strive to keep the newest and best available technology in our electrically powered devices.

A hybrid concept is in the works using a generated system be it gas, or other more efficient methods to power the device in flight.

A better flight time from on average 20-30 minutes is something we wish to improve. Hopefully the hybrid version will allow for better flight times of up to an hour or more.

The team point to a key advantage for electric flight.

This electrically driven system is quiet, clean and economically cost efficient. A one-hour flight would cost something near to 6 Euro for electricity. In addition, the device holds few parts, which could wear out, making maintenance intervals and cost low and far between.

The control firmware can be integrated with a sophisticated integrated GPS system or obstacle detection. As such, automated flight for predetermined points on a 3D map is possible. In addition to the relieving the pilot of strenuous navigational tasks, unmanned flight would be feasible similar to other devices (drones).

Having multiple motors means that the craft can keep flying should one or two engines fail. The flight controller will handle mismatched power automatically.

No doubt the military will now be knocking on the companies door to discuss a virtually silent single place helicopter that could be packed into a very small kit form for transportation.

There will be many regulatory hurdles to over come but excuse the pun, the team are off to a flying start.

Will the CAA let me fly one on my Helicopter licence I wonder ;-)

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35 thoughts on “German multicopter makes first manned flight.
  1. Really innovative! Something like this outside the realm of a large corporation is quite rare. Kudos to the team…

  2. Wow! I’m especially impressed that it appears to be done with ‘simple’ hardware; no carbon fiber struts, simple unducted propellors etc. There would seem to be significant room for efficiency improvements.

    Looking forward to more details

  3. the camerawoman at the end – you see her get up – is she ducking for cover or just crouching to lower the camera?

  4. I can visualize that the military use for something like this would be to change the ‘cockpit’ into a circular design that the pilot could hook their suit onto. Then, once they reach a certain point, the pilot could ‘eject’ straight down and the craft could automatically fly back to its origin point. Silent and self-removing so that the pilot doesn’t have to lug or hide the craft. Do the reverse in an unlikely high location, keeping the craft airborne, and have the pilot re-hook back into the craft and fly away. That would leave no trace of a plane or helicopter touchdown and frustrate people tracking them.

  5. There is NO possible way this could end badly in any way ;)

    You are an absolute moron not to have the pilot protected from the blades. If you want to be taken seriously, consider safety, it is 2011 after all.

  6. Very interesting. It appears in the video that the craft never got out of ground-effect altitude, is that because it can’t technically, or can’t legally, or just because you didn’t this time?

  7. @Wayne because plastic blades can kill you and the most dangerous part about this project is worrying about cheap blades… yep… Anyway, just because it’s’ 2011 doesn’t mean that we need to wear a helmet when we’re walking to the store, maybe you do but having to take extreme precaution for everything, especially things that won’t hurt someone if they touch it is pretty ridiculous. Enjoy the project for what it is and if you can’t do that then gb2/. you insensitive clod.

  8. @derp I guess you’re trying to be sarcastic, but ‘yes’ plastic blade like that could probably kill you. At least you could lose a hand or your eyesight.

  9. Typically, on a first-ever flight, we don’t go beyond survivable drop height – for obvious reasons. As stability and reliability prove themselves over time the apparent risk falls so we dare to go higher. This is so for all air craft, not just the highly innovative.
    Regarding the danger from failed blades, once more, it is typical to run them at least 25% faster (stress goes up with square of speed, yes?) in static test than they will ever reach in flight, which means a 50% margin of safety in use. Okay? Besides which, maybe the pilot was wearing bullet-proof underpants (joke).
    Congratulations to the team (and to the developers of ever-better motors, batteries and guidance systems) for what is at the same time a high-tech and a disarmingly simple development – akin in its way to a zillion party balloons and a deck chair, but perhaps both more complex and more practical.

  10. I could not agree more Peter, its looks simple but its not. Most cracking inventions appear that way. The birth of a new form of manned aircraft me thinks. The crazy thing is if I had the cash for the motors and batteries I could have a crack at building one. Would I have the nuts to sit in it and fly. That’s another story. I predict a rush to market of copycat devices. Whilst not of course unmanned all the technology has come from our unmanned world. Perhaps the first time a new aircraft design has travelled in that direction.

  11. Amazing! Future Shock! This is way much better than the allmost hoaxed Moller skycar. It would be interesting to see some more of the building steps, and with audio comments instead of music. Any thoughts of the choice of material and building costs? I think I’ll put a DIY-kit on my christmas wishlist :-)

  12. Wow! Very impressive work! There were some safety points raised on the rotors – but one issue to think about beyond that is how do you maintain stability if one or more rotors fail? Is that part of the control program? In a helicopter you can still do a power loss landing from altitude using the momentum of the blades. How would that work with this design?

  13. What part of “experimental” don’t you understand? And did you think the guy was strapped in only for entertainment value?

    I found their safety quite good – no showing off, slow, controlled ascent and descent, gentle turning, low flight elevation starting from horizontal hover. And even wearing a helmet..

    Congratulations guys (Kongratuliere :-). Any idea of costs?

  14. Ah I disagree, but then I have made several smaller multicopters. They are only electric motors on sticks with a tiny computer in the centre. These guys have just scaled them up. What they have really proved is they have a method of moving 50kg of kit across the battlefield.

  15. Great work. Having a background in aircraft testing, as well as working with electric motor controllers these days, I am impressed at the elegance of your design. I would like to see the multiple motors applied to a single rotor design next, or a gyrocopter design. Yes, a little more expensive, but I like the idea of storing some energy in the rotor for emergencies. You’re not exactly going to have autogyro function with those plastic blades, and what if you lose all of the motors (computer failure, lightning strike, etc)….
    Good job. I like it. Is the design with the pilot on top so that he can have a parachute?

  16. Chapeau bas!
    All my respect guys. I mentioned to many friends I would do it one day… I might, but you did!
    Bravo sons of Icare!

  17. I agree. There may even be no need for a “cockpit” then. It could just be a rope with a carabiner. If you could manufacture them cheap enough, it could be a safer, more modularized way of extracting troops from a hostile environment. The mulitple motors help with that too in case a couple were hit with small arms. You wouldn’t need to risk a pilot’s life and expensive helecopter to pull out troops, and if one goes down, and entire transport full of troops wouldn’t go with it if there were one or two of these things reserved for each troop that needs to be extracted. Each troop could carry a gps beacon of some sort that’s off until they turn it on to be extracted.

  18. I’m aeromodeler and always thought that we currently have modelling material with power to move humans in electric cars and electric multicopters. GLAD TO SEE you guys with money and motivation to do it for REAL.
    Congrats and hope to see more videos of flight.

  19. Why would it “almost certainly” be done in Germany? That does not look particulalry difficult to build, and could have been done in any country.

  20. Simple to build, not much of originality in the idea….

    oh, almost forgot, you guys where the first ones to do it!!!!!

    Everybody was thinking of doing it when you guys where doing it!
    GENIUS!!!!!and good luck.

  21. Simply Brilliant it is a shame you can’t use the battery technology that we know is out there but can’t be used due to the oil barrons buying up the rights to squash it and hide it from sight forever and its for the same reason electric cars will never be a serious contender to the petrol / diesel vehicles. Then of coarse there is the goverment how would they ever tax battery use so as to be able to rip us all off like they do with current fuels.

  22. I fly a quadcopter much like this all the time for filming with. It’s controlled by a Spektrum dx8 controller and works so well I have thought for a few years “what if I made a big quad, strapped on some car lipo power cells and flew it”?? Ahhhhh so cool to see you guys doing it. So simple an idea yet works so well, stable, redundant, powerful, smooth.

    Best “helicopter” I have ever flown for filming, now for human flight!

    built mine here:
    http://vimeo.com/9435221

    and the results:
    http://vimeo.com/21414110

  23. A normal helicopter uses variable pitch blades that allow it to create rotational inertia and slowing its fall after an engine failure, then use that inertia to slow it’s fall further for a controlled landing. (autorotation) A fixed pitch rotor system can’t do that.

  24. I fly real helicopters as well as multicopters, the extra motors on multicopters take up the slack in the event of a failure. They should not really be equated to old fashioned rotary flight as they are utterly different ;-)

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