Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, took a ride in the Volocopter 2X, becoming the first human passenger on an autonomous flight of the vehicle. The ride took place in a large enclosed space somewhere in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2017.
An Historical Sidebar
It looks a little like Hanna Reitsch’s helicopter flight under the roof of the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin in 1938, a feat she repeated daily during the three-week International Automobile Exhibition. She later test flew an early V-1 “Buzz Bomb,” her small size adaptable to the craft. Volocopter’s 2X requires far fewer flying skills, CEO Florian Reuter claiming a five-year-old can control the 2X.
Not a Flying Car
Sean O’Kane, enthusiastically reporting on the 2X for The Verge, can’t refrain from calling it a “flying car,” an all-too-common error in the popular press. Monday’s indoor flight came near the conclusion of Brian Krzanich’s keynote address to a packed house at Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Park Theater, a 5,200-seat venue. The audience also got to see the video of the CEO’s Berlin ride.
Krzanich must have superb concentration skills, putting out his hour-and-a-half message with dazzling lights and visuals all around him. His first order of business was to assure the audience that Spectre and Meltdown security flaws are being dealt with, and that “average computer users’ should not notice major slowdowns or disruptions. The Verge notes that other chip manufacturers face similar security issues.
Not to be alarmist, but a drone with Intel Inside is not exactly a device that follows an “average user” definition. Perhaps for that reason, Volocopter installs triply redundant flight control units, a typical practice on electronically-controlled aircraft. The 2X includes a “dissimilar backup flight control unit” for added peace of mind.
To further ensure reliability, nine independent battery packs supply power to two or the craft’s 18 brushless motors each. If all goes awry, a centrally-mounted ballistic parachute will bring the X2 and its passengers down safely.
CES Attendees lapped up the glitz of Las Vegas and received a hearty helping of the near future. We’ll all await our aerial taxi service, quite possibly with Intel Inside.