The R/C world of multi-rotor helicopters meets the world of personal avionics. e-Volo has announced the first manned flight of an electric multicopter. Powered by 16 custom 3.75kw brushless electric motors, the 80 Kg multicopter, was manned and flown by inventor Thomas Senkel on October 21, 2011. Watch the video for a look at this historic flight.
While R/C hobbyists have been making small-scale multicopters based on brushless motors, Senkel’s flight is reported to be the first manned flight of a multi-rotor ultralight. Senkel, a physicist and engineer, has been developing custom brushless motors for 20 years. His custom motor windings have led to advances in power and efficiency making this scale of device possible.
The e-volo measures approximately five by five meters, has four jibs (with 4 propellers each), a basic weight of about 80 kg (including batteries). So it is an ultra light aircraft, which already as a prototype allows for a payload of about 80 kg. 16 propellers provide it with the necessary uplift and at the same time guarantee the required security, because beside the impressively easy construction without a complex mechanism the aircraft can be landed safely even with a malfunction of up to four engines.
from the e-volo Press Release
e-Volo plans to develop and sell multicopter ultralights commerically by improving the design and safety characteristics of their device.