Engineering Headlines

Drone Carrying Humans (Germany)

The Volocopter from Karlsruhe, Germany looks like a helicopter with 18 rotors! Actually, the aircraft is a drone. But now that further developed start-up e-volo the drone will be a carrier for people. 

German Drone Carrying Humans
Photo: e-volo

Volocopter Drone VC200 from Karlsruhe can carry humans.

He is a record plane, Volocopter VC200 from Karlsruhe start-ups e volo is unique. First drone, which is approved for transporting people and by the German Aero Administration as Ultra Light Air Vehicle has already received the preliminary approval of traffic (VVZ). And the flying machine, which looks like a mix of helicopter and drone, today made the first flight with his owner.

German Drone for Humans

As pilot Alex Zosel (CEO) increases after the premiere the cockpit of the VC200, naturally excited expectations. “The device was completely reliable, it has had no vibration”. Enthusiasm is understandable. It is not only a pilot, he is also Managing Director of E Volo. And he is the first person who has entrusted a drone at the same time.

Drone is controlled with speed control of the rotors

A very special drone. Just 18 rotors are driven by electric motors mounted on a large ring. While no mechanics for sheet adjustment are necessary on the rotors as opposed to conventional helicopter. The automatic position control and direction control are made with several independent and each other to monitor on-board computers that control each motor separately in its speed.

Volocopter VC200
Photo: e-volo

The drone launches vertically like a helicopter. Curves flies them by the opposing groups of rotor speeds are different. The monster drone is controlled simply by joystick. The movements of the joystick implemented by an intelligent electronic control commands. Lifting off approximately, all engines get command to run with same speed. In turning, it sets the whole groups of rotor speed as well as with the non-vertical climb or descent.

Nine independent batteries deliver the required current. The power consumption is up to 50 kilowatts. The take-off weight up to two persons with maximum 450 kilograms lift. The drone consists largely of fibre reinforced composite material. All safety and critical systems are carried out twice. One fails, another takes over its entire tasks.

Drone is an alternative to the car in urgent matters

Volocopter should, if the upcoming test series are completed be used as an alternative to the car. Zosel can imagine that the VC200 could serve as an airport shuttle. Because he can float on the spot, he could exercise supervision over roads. Also as individual means of transport, the drone would be used, because she easily control according to the manufacturer using the joystick without flight experience.

Low range and short time in the air on one charge.

For serial production range needs to be increased. Currently nine batteries gives only 20 to 25 minutes flight range. However, Zosel hopes to be able to increase the electric range soon for an hour. A hybrid version, combustion engine that drives a generator, which takes over the power supply of the electric motors is also planned.

Also a fuel cell drive is conceivable.

But also in purely electric mode, a taxi service can be already guarantee, because the batteries can be replaced with a few simple steps with new ones. “The most we come at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour”, so Zosel. There came the drone even at speeds of 100 km/h in over 100 unmanned test flights.

100 km per hour drone
Volocopter VC200 can fly with up to 100 km/h. Photo E-Volo

The German drone manufacturer of ascending technologies in Krailing near Munich, the U.S. chip maker Intel has recently adopted provided technical support in the development. This cooperation is to be continued, says Josh Walden, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel. “We look forward to the development of another manned and unmanned systems.”

At first but it applies to replace the preliminary with a final approval. This give the Karlsruhe to two years time, where they complete a comprehensive flight test program. It starts with flights at low altitude at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour. In the second phase, it is with double speed at medium altitudes. Come on the hardness test at speeds up to 100 km/h.