Ever heard of a quadracopter? This is a small, electric aircraft powered by four propellers and, until now, unmanned. Well, supersize it, multiple the number of propellers by four, put a man in it, and there you have it: one multicopter. The first ever multicopter flight took place in Germany on October 21st making it the world’s first manned drone.
The machine was designed by German aircraft developers e-volo. If you’re scared of heights, then this machine probably isn’t for you however, as it is essentially composed of a seat and sixteen propellers which lift it into the air. The one and a half minute flight on a south Germany airstrip was manned by physicist and builder of the multicopter Thomas Senkel.
It works using a handheld remote control and has a simpler design than a standard helicopter. It is also slightly safer as it can still land (without crashing) if up to four of its motors are not in use or break down. Its computer system detects aspects of the area including its position relative to the ground and its direction of travel.
They kept the first flight fairly tame, (probably a wise decision), and flew it around a small patch of ground. The company is considering designing other versions including a gas/electric power composite model which would extend the time it is in flight as the current model can only stay in the air for ten to thirty minutes.
The team at e-volo is hoping to make the multicopter available on the market in the future.