Volocopter, Dubai Sign Autonomous Air Taxi Agreement

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Dubai, already having penned a similar agreement with China’s eHang, will start test runs of autonomous air taxis in 2017 with the Volocopter. Volocopter’s Eventful Year Volocopter has had an eventful year, introducing its latest model, the 2X, at this year’s Friedrichshafen Aero E-Flight Expo and opening its new corporate headquarters.  Now, it looks forward to demonstrating its craft in regular service.  e-Volo writes, “Our vision becomes reality: Dubai’s government “Roads and Transport Authority” (RTA) has signed an agreement with us regarding the regular test mode of Autonomous Air Taxis (AAT) in the emirate. The test will start in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the project has been scheduled to run for five years.” The Volocopter 2X, according to …

Hoversurf – The Russians are coming with Flying Bikes

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Hoversurf, a Russian flying motorcycle, has been getting a lot of press lately.  “Looks like a hell of a ride,” trumpets TheNextWeb.  Mashable headlines, “The first manned hoverbike could finally fulfill your ‘Star Wars’ dreams,” but points out, “Those dangerous-looking propellers spinning right next to the pilot’s legs.” New Atlas (formerly Gizmag) says it is, “Equally amazing and horrifying.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztr5eyASasQ Hoversurf’s Scorpion evokes Star Wars with its clean white gloss.  But like the movie’s speeder bikes flung about by heroes and villains alike, seems equally dangerous with its wooden propellers at two different heights – ankle-biter and knee-slapper.  Protective shields theoretically will prevent slicing and dicing, and future plans call for an enclosed cabin with the occupant more secure from …

Jetpacks to VTOL Multi-Rotors

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You see a lot of articles petulantly demanding, “Dude, where’s my jetpack?” or “Where’s my flying car?”  It’s a bit like wanting a Formula 1 racer in which to commute, and fraught with similar problems.  An F1 race car, for instance, demands incredible driving skills – that’s why most F1 drivers are incredibly well compensated.  A jetpack is a very short-range machine.  Strapping one on, avoiding scorch marks on your heels and zipping even a mile or two might actually take more time than walking, or hopping on a bike. From James Bond to Civilian Use James Bond’s use of a Bell Rocket Belt to escape goons in Thunderball made it look quick, easy, and a great way to find …

Will Dubai Beat Everyone to Jetson World?

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What do you give the country that has everything?  Perhaps the world’s first aerial taxi service. An Excess of Riches Dubai is a fabulously rich country, with an air conditioned beach, the world’s largest shopping mall and an indoor ski center complete with a good base and a layer of powder.  Disappointingly, it’s only the third largest indoor skiing area in the world.  The largest is in the Netherlands, with the second largest in Germany.  At least those countries don’t have to overcome the desert’s heat to drop the temperature below freezing. Visitors to Dubai can be excused for wanting to commute between these tourist attractions in an equally extravagant way.  Buzzing down on them in an eHang 184 passenger-carrying drone …

Larry Page’s Flying Car(s)?

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A3 backed by Airbus, EHang 184 from China, and Zee from Larry Page (head of Google) – Silicon Valley seems an unlikely source of aeronautical breakthroughs, but several entrepreneurial outings from Airbus, Chinese startups, and Zee.Aero, led by a secretive Larry Page, have interest growing.  A pair of recent flights by Zee’s craft in Hollister, California have generated coverage – and speculation. Larry Page’s Two Companies It turns out Page has a second company, Kitty Hawk, taking yet another path toward electrified flying cars with something like a large quadcopter – not unlike the eHang 184.  Neither Zee.Aero nor Kitty Hawk is affiliated with Google, both funded out of Page’s largesse.  One theory is that his two companies, the first …

Airbus’s Aerial Commuter of the Future?

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Airbus and its partner Local Motors have just finished a successful design challenge for delivery drones that can carry things like emergency medical supplies to selected destinations.  Recent announcements and the release of a patent drawing show Airbus is doing serious work toward delivering humans to their selected destinations in a scaled-up version of such drones.  Many brilliant people have tried to combine the benefits of ground and air transport over the years, including Molt Taylor, designer of the rightly famous Aerocars.  The example at Seattle’s Museum of Flight causes docents to lower their voices out of respect for the accomplishment. That’s certainly a concept promoted for last decade by Dr. Brien Seeley, head of the Sustainable Aviation Foundation and …

Volocopter VC200 Certified in Germany

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With China certifying its RX1E two-seat electric trainer recently, Germany beats the rest of the world to electric rotary-wing certification with its provisional certificate for the VC200 Volocopter as an ultralight aircraft – certificate number VVZ, registration D-MYVC.  This will allow the German Ultralight Flight Association (DULV) to continue testing the vehicle, a program in place since 2013.  Testing has been done on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure – a telling name for the organization since the German government feels a strong digital infrastructure is necessary to efficient operation of all transportation. Further testing will lead to certification of the VC200 as an ultralight prototype and, following successful completion of testing, to series production. Volocopter’s …

Controversial at CES 2016

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Making a lot of column inches of traditional newsprint and reigning as clickbait on the Internet, the Ehang 184 is an eye-catching Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) causing a bit of controversy in the media.  Unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016), it drew concentric circles of photographers who normally save their enthusiasm for the lovely models showing off the newest iPhone or PlayStation. Coming from a firm that already makes hobby drones, the 184 (one passenger, eight motors, four arms) can carry its trusting passenger up to 20 miles, depending on who’s reporting.  Its 14.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack allows a maximum of 23 minutes of flight, and at 60 mph, a quick hop to a nearby destination, which …