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Man Flies in Electric Multi-copter

It’s being widely reported as the first time an electric multi-copter has carried a human being aloft. Germans Thomas Senkel, Stephan Wolf, and Alexander Zosel are the brains behind e-volo, a 16-copter with four groups of four blades, each of which is driven by a separate motor. The first human-carrying flight is reported to have lasted one minute and thirty seconds.

56 thoughts on “Man Flies in Electric Multi-copter

  1. Seems like dangerous design why don’t they elevate the blades and have the guy sit beneath them in case of failure.

    1. From a safety point of view I can understand your question. But it is best to keep the center of gravity in the same plane as the blades for best flight characteristics.

    2. It’s probably not as dangerous as it looks.  The biggest issue I’d be worried about is prop disintegration, but the brushless motors tend to be very smooth, and unless I miss my guess, those are carbon props.  They’d have to hit something really hard like a big rock, shatter badly, and have really lousy luck to actually hit the pilot.  A Kevlar mesh mounted around the seat could deal with that with minimal additional drag, but I’d rather worry about real threats, like drivers on their cell phones. 

    3. It seems like having the pilot sit on the same plane as the prop motors allows the seat to be secured directly to the frame. That is, no substantial weight is added in order to mount the seat. If he were to be positioned below the motors then additional framing sections would have to be added which would increase the weight. This baby is already laboring to get air born.

  2. DecaHexacopter FTW! 

    That’s really cool.  As others have noted, I’m wondering what sort of endurance they can get, given LiPo batteries, which I presume they’re using.  I’m also curious as to what the overall efficiency is, and how motor/prop sizing was determined. 

    It’s a very energy intensive form of flight, but you do get the benefits of total positional control (assuming you’re within the performance envelope). 

  3. I think the bouncing ball seat is meant to be used for heavy crash landings so you can bounce clear of the “death by a thousand juicer’s”

    1. Servo motors come to a stop almost instantly when power is lost.  If you lost power and fell as a result, the props would be unlikely to be spinning much, other than what spinning is caused by air rushing past as you fell, which would also slow the descent some (hard to say how much).  In any event, the moment you hit the ground and air is no longer pushing them, they would stop in about a half turn or so.

  4. For stability would it be better for the pilot to be laying belly down (and possibly slightly lower than the blade path if they do come loose)

  5. Here is what I know based on my research.

    ryansyp, They have the pilot above the blades so that a parachute is an option in case of emergency.

    rocketryguy the duration is currently 20-30 minutes.

    I did a quick analysis of what they might be doing to get it to fly based on my knowledge of electric flight and Lipo batteries (flying electric planes since 1980). The motors are a special wind motor and not off the shelf. The batteries contain 32 packs (two packs per motor) I do not yet know how many mah the Lipo cells are but when I know I will share.

    If you want to read my speculations on how a modeler would build one of these machines just go to here. http://www.makermasters.com/e-volo-multicopter-paves-the-way-in-manned-diy-electric-flight .

    Bill

  6. Nope! this is not the first flight of a machine of this type. Sorry, This has been done before. Though  not with electric motors but with gas and the other one had a body. Check out the flying car in the magazine Poplar mechanics or Poplar Science from the mid 80’s. The inventor had built and flew one similar to this
      Before him the U.S.Airforce has made these type of vehicles as prototypes since the 50’s and 60’s.   But It is still really COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want one!!!

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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