World premiere: Volocopter is flying manned! - Dawn of a revolution in urban mobility
Karlsruhe, April 2016. The premiere of manned flights with the world’s first certified multicopter, e-volo’s Volocopter VC200, marks the beginning of a new era in urban mobility. The Volocopter is a personal aerial vehicle that is so easy and safe to fly, literally anyone can command it. Due to its electric propulsion, it has no exhaust emissions and is impressively quiet. For the first time humans’ dream of personal flight as a daily routine becomes attainable. As such it not only offers more widespread use in conventional aircraft domains, but brings us another step closer to air taxi services and entire transportation systems in the third dimension.
Successful maiden flight of the world’s first green helicopter
E-volo’s Volocopter is a revolution in aviation Made in Germany. Safer, simpler, and cleaner than normal helicopters, it has a unique way of moving – a groundbreaking innovation. The Volocopter is an environmentally friendly and emission-free private helicopter. Instead of one combustion engine, eighteen electrically driven rotors propel it.
The maiden flight and first test flights were conducted in the dm-arena in Karlsruhe with the prototype of the 2-person VC200 on Sunday, November 17, 2013 supported by the Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress GmbH (KMK). Based on this model, it will be prepared for series production in the coming years. “There are already numerous requests for the Volocopter from around the world,“ said Alexander Zosel, managing director of e-volo.
With multiple flights lasting several minutes reaching the nearly 22 m high ceiling of the dm-arena, including a number of smooth takeoffs and landings, the Volocopter concept exceeded all expectations. “Rich and incredibly quiet sound, absolutely no noticeable vibrations in the flight, convincing structure with a great, new spring strut landing gear, and an extremely calm rotor plane,“ concluded the e-volo managing director, thanking the KMK. “New innovations that have the possibility to change our world are continually presented at the Messe Karlsruhe. Therefore it was natural to work in partnership with the e-volo team to enable the test flights in the dm-arena,“ announced KMK managing director Britta Wirtz. “The fair is not just a display of strengths in the technology field, but concretely supports pioneers of aviation as well.“
The developing team of e-volo knew from the onset that the Volocopter was very easy to fly. Due to elaborate simulations at the Stuttgart University, they already knew that it was much more quiet than a helicopter. However, the pleasant low, rich sound and the lower-than-expected noise level caused great cheering among the e-volo team during the first flights.
People were eager to know whether there would be disturbing or even dangerous vibrations in the mechanic structure of the rotor plane. “Such vibrations are a large problem for normal helicopters,“ stated e-volo managing director Stephan Wolf, adding that “there, the vibrations together with the deafening noise have lead to much discomfort on passenger flights in helicopters.“ Due to the complex structure of the Volocopter in carbon lightweight design, it was not possible to simulate the expected vibrations in the laboratory. “The result of the first flight created a euphoria among the entire project team.“ Wolf and Zosel further stated that “not even the HD video cameras secured to the exterior carbon ring of the rotor plane captured the least vibrations.“
Most helicopter accidents occur in connection with the pilot’s behavior. The new control system and sensor technology, together with 18 rotor blades and a low-maintenance architecture, make the Volocopter much safer than conventional helicopters.
(1) There is hardly room left for pilot mistakes
A large number of pilot mistakes that cause flight accidents are no longer possible in the Volocopter. The pilot only controls the direction of the flight and does not need to worry about safe flight conditions. This task is automatically and flawlessly transferred to on-board computers in coordination with the numerous sensors.
(2) The construction of the Volocopter strives for maximal reliability
For each component of the aircraft, our two-year concept development is based on the guiding principle that the Volocopter must become the world’s safest piece of air sport equipment. Accordingly, we have created an aircraft with high-level redundancy. This means that, in the event of a failure of several, even greatly varying, components, the aircraft is still able to land safely. From the safety analyses, a construction of six rotor arms with three drives each, which are in turn supplied from different energy sources, was developed. The flight control, too, is not based on the classic „fly-by-wire“ Trias Master, Slave, and Voter computers, but on circa 20 independent computers. In principle, each of these computers could navigate the entire aircraft individually. All components are connected in an intelligent mesh network, which allows for countless network connections to fail without impairing flight navigation. The steering joystick is built with multiple redundancies.
(3) Secured energy supply
In the current prototype of the VC200, 18 drives are supplied by six central battery blocks. The supply lines to the drives are divided in such a way that each rotor arm’s three drives are supplied by three different battery blocks. This way, two non-adjacent arms can fail entirely and the Volocopter is still able to land safely. Since the Volocopter has a reserve capacity of 50%, a safe landing is possible even when two battery blocks fail. The series production plans to include additional decentralized backup batteries.
These redundancies are complemented by a ballistic total separation system, which safely lands the entire aircraft with a parachute in the case of an emergency. Thus, the Volocopter has not only a second chance, but even numerous chances.
Nearly all problems of normal helicopters are thereby solved.
Advantages of the Volocopter
- Potential to become the world’s safest piece of air sport equipment
- No emissions
- Very easy to fly by joystick
- Easy and cost-efficient pilot training
- Extremely low operating costs and low-maintenance
- Quiet, pleasant sound
- No vibrations
Comments about e-volo:
Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh:
“We believe that the development of the Volocopter holds significant promise to radically change short distance transportation,” said Erik Lindbergh. “It has a long development path ahead, but if this innovative design reaches the commercial market, it will dramatically change the way we move about the planet.” (April 20, 2012)
Dr. Philipp Rösler, Federal Minister of Economics:
“When I see what the e-volo team has accomplished over the past months, I must say that our appropriated funds for this project have been a truly good investment of German taxpayer money.“ (July 29, 2013)
e-volo starts crowdfunding:
Innovative, too, in financing: On November 27, 2013 e-volo will begin crowdfunding in order to finance the way to series production of the VC200. In this model, many private investors (the „crowd“) make loans to the company (shareholder loans), whose interest and payout value are directly linked to the success of the company. The partner for realizing this is the Internet platform www.seedmatch.de. Here, anyone is able to contribute with payments between 250 and 10,000 Euros and become part of a team that has lifted aviation to new heights.
The first signers of a 10,000 Euro package will receive a purchase opportunity worth 5,000 Euros for a place among the candidates to purchase one of the first Volocopter VC200s.
New cooperation partner:
With its first flight, e-volo would like to present a new cooperation partner
Ascending Technologies GmbH, www.asctec.de
The first flight of the e-volo Volocopter VC200 in Karlsruhe on November 17, 2013, took place with support by the Ascending Technologies GmbH. Thereby, the Volocopter project profited from the expertise of the long-standing technology leader in unmanned aircrafts (UAV). Ascending Technologies from Krailling near Munich is the creator and inventor of micro UAVs for professional use. With more than 1000 sold multicopters worldwide, the company is a unique source of experience. In combination with a high level of in-house manufacturing and pioneer work in sensor data processing and flight attitude stabilization, Ascending Technologies is a valuable partner for e-volo. Simultaneously, participation in this project and continued development of the Volocopter poses a new and welcome challenge to the company. True to the premise: Amazing Technology!
In October 2011, the Karlsruhe company e-volo lifted aviation to new heights with the world’s first purely electric, manned, vertically launched flight. Last year, the company received the biggest prize in general aviation, the Lindbergh Foundation Prize for Innovation.
The e-volo Volocopter is an entirely new, vertically launched, manned aircraft that cannot be placed into any existing category. Unlike conventional aircrafts, the Volocopter was designed from the beginning with an electric drive. Like a helicopter, the propellers allow the Volocopter to takeoff and land vertically. Its benefits lie in not only the strikingly simple construction without elaborate mechanics and the low maintenance costs. One significant advantage is also the redundancy of drives. This allows a safe landing of the Volocopter even in the event of several motor failures.
Project costs of two million Euros were covered by ZIM funding (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand – „Central Innovation Program for Medium-Sized Businesses“). The ZIM by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology attempts to further companies’ sustainable innovative strength and competitiveness in order to contribute to growth, in consideration of creating and securing jobs. This takes the e-volo Volocopter to its next stage. Two research institutions and four highly innovative companies are part of this collaborative research project to develop a marketable product.
By now, the e-volo Volocopter has received several awards ranging from „Hightech Pioneer“ at the CyberChampions Award to placement at the „GreenTec Awards.“
(press release ee-volo)