18-rotor electric helicopter makes maiden flight

Aside from being emission-free, the German-built Volocopter VC200 is a VTOL aircraft that aims to offer a calm and quiet ride.

Volocopter VC200
The Volocopter VC200, which made several remote-controlled flights, is designed to carry two people. E-volo

If its 18 rotors aren't enough to get you excited, this crazy flying machine has a "pleasant sonorous sound," according to German engineers who built the Volocopter VC200.

The successor to the even more outrageous Volocopter VC1 is being billed as "the world's first green helicopter," but a number of other projects have also claimed that title.

The multicopter recently took to the skies for the first time in a series of remote-controlled, unmanned flights in an arena in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"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," was how Alexander Zosel, managing director of developer E-volo, described the nine flights, which lasted a total of about 20 minutes.

As seen in the gallery below, the highly eccentric VC1 craft was used in a stunt in which a pilot sat on a ball amid 16 rotors.

The VC200, however, has a proper cockpit for two, and is described as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft that doesn't quite fit into any traditional category of flying machine.

It has 18 zero-emission, battery-powered electric motors for propulsion instead of the traditional combustion engines of helicopters. A frame and branching supports for rotors are made of carbon fiber help keep the weight down.

E-volo says the Volocopter VC200 can offer passengers a quiet, smooth, green ride. The vehicle is also easy to fly by joystick, and will have low operating and maintenance costs.

The VC200 flew to a height of some 70 feet during its test flights, which were recorded in the video below, which is pretty noisy but that may be due to the camera position.

It can fly for about 20 minutes with current battery technology, but E-volo hopes that will improve to allow for flights of an hour or more.

After additional testing and manned flights, the prototype will be used as the basis for series production in the coming years, said E-volo, calling the craft "the world's safest piece of air sport equipment."

"There are already numerous requests for the Volocopter from around the world," Zosel added.

What do you think? Would you ride this thing? Check it out in the video below.

 

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