How cool would it be to fly off to work like this? While that day may be a few years away, it certainly has gotten a lot closer thanks to a team of German designers, physicists, and programmers. The E-volo mulitcopter is a new prototype design that has just completed its first test flight.
Many of the necessary functions such as balance, altitude control, and directional control are carried out through a series of on-board computers while the pilot steers the craft using a joystick. Each vehicle is lifted by 16 independently controlled propellers that are powered through common off-the-shelf batteries to ease in maintenance and repairs. Possible features to come are built in GPS and obstacle detection to support un-manned trips.
Currently the E-volo can sustain a 20-minute long flight, but the team hopes that by adding a hybrid fuel system that flights could last for over an hour. The craft is also energy and economically efficient. It's estimated it will only take $9 dollars to power an hour long flight. Safety has also been taken into account and, thanks to the well-thought out engineering and design, the craft will still be able to safely land even if 4 of its 16 motors fail.