Could this personal helicopter represent a cleaner, greener future for the aviation industry?
There’s almost nothing eco-friendly about flying (bad news with the holidays coming up, I know). And that’s with planes full with more than 100 people all flying together. When you get to the realm of private jets and personal helicopters, the green factor plummets even further.
Despite the shocking amount of fossil fuel it takes to move even a small plane through the air, people aren’t going to stop flying any time soon. So the aviation industry has been working on alternative fuels and smarter designs that will allow flying to be as efficient as possible.
According to a German company called E-Volo, the future of efficient transportation might not be planes, but helicopters. The team recently unveiled the Volocopter, a personal helicopter they say is safer, simpler, and cleaner than normal helicopters because of the unique way it moves through the air: instead of one combustion engine, Volocopter uses 18 electrically driven rotors to propel itself through the atmosphere with zero emissions (technically this makes it an octodecacopter, but who’s counting?).
“For power, six battery blocks power the rotor drives for about twenty minutes of emission-free flight time, with an hour anticipated in the future,” reports Gizmag. “E-volo emphasizes the redundancies in the battery system. Each rotor arm is powered by three batteries, so two nonadjacent batteries could fail and the Volocopter could still land safely. In even more dire straits, a ballistic separation system deploys a parachute.”
“Rich and incredibly quiet sound, absolutely no noticeable vibrations in the flight, convincing structure with a great, new spring strut landing gear, and an extremely calm rotor plane,” concluded E-volo’s managing director after one of several successful test flights. Such vibrations, in addition to a high level of external noise, have discouraged people from utilizing helicopters.
Due to elaborate simulations at the Stuttgart University, they already knew that the Volocopter was much more quiet than a helicopter. However, the pleasant low, rich sound and the lower-than-expected noise level caused great cheering among the E-volo team during the first flights.
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