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Take to the skies in your personal multicopter

Da Vinci might have fancied E-volo's bizarre Volocopter, which seems like an oversized toy. Don't forget your parachute.

E-volo's Volocopter: And you thought economy class was uncomfortable. e-velo

You might think aviation experts would dismiss this eccentric aircraft, which has no fewer than 16 propellers, but some are taking the Volocopter very seriously.

Built by Germany's E-volo, the unclassifiable thing recently received the Lindbergh Prize for Innovation at the Aero-Friedrichshafen 2012 airshow.

The Volocopter is a 175-pound, electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft that has redundant propellers for safety. E-volo says it's very easy to control, with simple joystick steering. Could this be the personal transport of the future?

"We believe that the development of the Volocopter holds significant promise to radically change short distance transportation," said Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles 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."

As seen in the video below, E-volo demonstrated the Volocopter last year with a first flight that lasted 1 minute and 30 seconds. Kudos to the company's Thomas Senkel for his bravery.

The VC1 prototype wasn't meant for manned flight, but E-volo was confident enough to add a pilot. It's hoping the craft's simple design and control will attract interest.

"The propellers generate the entire ascending force, and by means of a selective change in rotary speed they simultaneously take care of the steering," E-volo says. "Furthermore, as opposed to helicopters, no mechanical pitch control of the propellers is necessary whatsoever."

Battery power currently limits the Volocopter to flights of 20 minutes but increasing capacity could result in flights of over an hour. The company is developing single- and two-seater hybrid versions that would resemble helicopters to some degree.

Fortunately, they would come with airframe parachutes for emergency situations where everything fails. Check out the concepts in the photo gallery.

Here's the vid of the first flight from last year. What do you think? Would you go for a ride in (or on) one of these?