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e-volo multicopter

UpForce

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Yes, I know I'm easily exciteable. Yes, the history of aviation is littered with examples of "personal flight machines" which either didn't work, would've exceeded anything a middle class clientele can sustain or in any case couldn't be safely trusted in the hands of every Tom, Dick and Harry. And yes, electric multirotor toys and drones are pretty commonplace.

But this project - DIY looking as it might be (... how about what I think is a core exercise ball doubling as landing gear?) - checks some intriguing boxes, ones that are also indicative of a wider convergence and perhaps heretofore unrecognized affordability of manned aviation technologies. An idea obvious enough to have been brushed aside without much consideration until now? Quoting from e-volo's site (abridged):

"The e-volo multicopter is an innovative, vertically starting, human carrying transportation device that is uncatagorisable to its current flight counterparts. ... The e-volos sixteen propellers allow it to take off and land similar to a helicopter. Its massive plus points compared to a helicopter are the simplicity of its engineered construction without complicated mechanics and its redundant engines. Should anything go wrong, e-volo can still safely land even if up to four of its sixteen motors should fail. ...

... In difference to other helicopters or multi-rotors, e-volo can use a safety parachute, as there are no propellers blocking the deployment area above. ... The propellers create the full lift, and are also responsible for balancing the device on all three axes only by independent speed control of the motors. E-volo from the beginning has been designed entirely as an electrically powered device. Unlike the rotor of a helicopter, the propellers dont´t have any pitch control and therefore no wear. These factors make the multicopter mechanically simple, with close to no maintenance necessary. ...

... The automatic attitude and directional control are taken care of by multiple separate and mutually monitoring onboard computers, controlling the engines with the precise rotation speed necessary to fly this tri-axis device. A simple joystick allows the pilot to control the aircraft via a fly-by-wire system. Whether during vertical takeoff, in flight, or landing, the pilot has to pay little attention to minimum speed, stall, gas mixture control, pitch control or one of many other things that make conventional flight as challenging as it is. ... This electrically driven system is quiet, clean and economically cost efficient. A one-hour flight would cost something near to 6 Euro for electricity. In addition, the device holds few parts, which could wear out, making maintenance intervals and cost low and far between. ...

... The control firmware can be integrated with a sophisticated integrated GPS system or obstacle detection. As such, automated flight for predetermined points on a 3D map is possible. In addition to the relieving the pilot of strenuous navigational tasks, unmanned flight would be feasible similar to other devices (drones). ... In some areas the multicopter may replace the average helicopter. The simple and cost efficient maintenance make it a viable counterpart to current aviational transport."

e-volo_IMGP2420.jpg


I originally encountered e-volo on makezine's blog. Taking a wider perspective, we may be entering an unprecedented age of enablement by fundamentally personalized manufacturing/imagining technologies, an ecosystem of "hacking" our real environment with "apps" which entirely transcend the virtual and physical realms, "crowdsourcing" abilities we may personally lack in "expertise clouds". This process may flow with an ease with which many (if not most) centralized, highly hierarchical, highly predetermined and mass produced "consumables" can't even approach.

Just occasionally observing sites such as makezine (or DIY drones) gives the sense that this kind of self-organizing coöperation is a tremendously efficient, rational and resilient way of doing things. And fun! We have been accustomed to a World where big things invariably equal big budgets, big leaders and big edifices. That "uncommon wisdom" is, IMHO, in the process of being cut down to scale when it comes to personal lives. This may turn out to be just the beginning of truly original flights of fancy.
 

shedofdread

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It's a rather nicely done up-scaling of the whole 'quadcopter' concept. By going down the 4 groups of 4 route, they've addressed some safety concerns (lost motor, large dia rotors) but at the expense of efficiency. I'd be interested to know what their max windspeed limit is as at UAS scale some of these things can suffer in a breeze / turbulence. Either way, they deserve huge credit for building and successfully flying it.

S

PS love the re-cycled Spacehopper as a shock absorber.... ;)

PPS everyone have one? Hmmmmm I think the CAA (etc) may have something to say about that!
 

Avimimus

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I was wondering if anyone would like to explain some of the downsides of such a design to me. ;D

I assume there would be some issues with scaling, and particularly, with speed.
 

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Was reminded to this company by a RC-model magazine about multicopters:
What started as quite a "makeshift" attempt, is planned to lead to a much more practical
vehicle, designated "Volocopter VC-200". A two-seater, certified as ULA (as an own class in Germany),
powered by a hybrid propulsion (not purely by accumulators), max. speed of around 100 km/h
and a ceiling of 2000 m. Couldn't find data for range/endurance still yet ...
More information (and photo from) http://emobiles.at/?p=652#more-652 and
http://mint-forum.net/2013/03/10/code_n-kinderleicht-in-die-lufte-steigen-mit-dem-volocopter/vc200_04/ .

Juding our RC-quadcopter. it could be a lot of fun ! ;)
 

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Jemiba

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I think, from the fast growing market for electrically powered RC-models/helicopters. There are
a lot of examples achieving performances, that were hard to imagine 10 to 20 years ago, then still
with combustion engines. Those engines always were a hurdle, but today: Unboxing, charging the LiPo
accumulators and then even beginners can have 5 to 10 minutes nearly carefree flying fun with modern
gyro and stabilisation systems. Seems logical, that questions arose about scaling those thingies up to
man carrying sizes !
 

VTOLicious

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Jemiba said:
I think, from the fast growing market for electrically powered RC-models/helicopters. There are
a lot of examples achieving performances, that were hard to imagine 10 to 20 years ago, then still
with combustion engines. Those engines always were a hurdle, but today: Unboxing, charging the LiPo
accumulators and then even beginners can have 5 to 10 minutes nearly carefree flying fun with modern
gyro and stabilisation systems. Seems logical, that questions arose about scaling those thingies up to
man carrying sizes !

Sure, but what' s so innovative about the volocopter? I can not see any advantage over a helicopter.

The innovative concept of an electrical vertical take-off aircraft convinced the supreme authority for aviation in Germany, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) to such an extent that it has commissioned a two to three year trial programme for the creation of a new category in aviation.

???
 

Jemiba

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VTOLicious said:
Sure, but what' s so innovative about the volocopter? I can not see any advantage over a helicopter.

All those complex mechanics are dispensable, all those props are just changing rpm, so system control
is fully electronic, so could be doubled or even tripled and failure of at least one motor/prop doen't lead to
catastrophe. There's certainly a reason, that small camcopters for semi professional/professionale use are
more and more based on RC-multicopters and not on RC helicopters.
 

VTOLicious

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There's certainly a reason, that small camcopters for semi professional/professionale use are
more and more based on RC-multicopters and not on RC helicopters.

I´m well aware of the advantages of small multicopters in general. I personally fly quadcopters, tricopters, etc. for years and enjoy the mech. simplicity and ease of use because I´m a bad pilot ;)

However, I don't think it will simplify anything, if someone installs a triple redundant autopilot, 16 motors, 16 speed controllers, associated cables/equipment and a emergency parachute in a ultralight aircraft!

Btw, in 2006 Mr. Bradley Ward Hughey patented a "VERTICAL TAKEOFF AND LANDING AIRCRAFT USING A REDUNDANT ARRAY OF INDEPENDENT ROTORS".

Cheers!
 

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Jemiba

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VTOLicious said:
... and enjoy the mech. simplicity and ease of use because I´m a bad pilot ;)

me too, my son is much better ! ;D As you mentioned the hype about multicopter, especially the
man carrying projects, to me it seems to be similar to that about jet packs, or back-pack helicopter
long ago. Seems easy, achievable and manageable by nearly everyone, at least at first glance.
But already the proposed production version of the e-volo multicopter is said to use a hybrid
propulsion plant, so, the inherent simplicity of the pure electrical propulsion (which still would be
useful for quite short hops only, of course !) will be gone. I remeber a vertiflite article about the
first man carrying elictrically driven helicopter, using LiPo accumulators. I had to get along without
fuses, as for currents of more than 100 A, they would have be much too heavy ! So a calculated risk
was taken for those experimental flights, but certainly this would be a no go for commercial types.
So I fully agree, it's still just a hype, nevertheless, taking future development into consideration, there
may well be such types in the future, but this future is still several years away and not around the corner !
 

shedofdread

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From both studies we (work) undertook and from observation of other multi-rotor UAS (IIRC the large MicroDrone to name but one), there would appear to be an upper limit on the usable size of multi-rotor platforms. They get to a point where the inertia in the motor / rotor system prevents accurate control. This is one reason why the 'Falcon8' (an octocopter with very small motors and rotors) is so good in turbulence. The solution? Variable pitch! But now you have the complexity of a helicopter without the low disk loading and the ability to autorotate.... ;)

Y'know, old Igor (Sikorsky) was on to something...
 

Dragon029

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VTOLicious said:
There's certainly a reason, that small camcopters for semi professional/professionale use are
more and more based on RC-multicopters and not on RC helicopters.

I´m well aware of the advantages of small multicopters in general. I personally fly quadcopters, tricopters, etc. for years and enjoy the mech. simplicity and ease of use because I´m a bad pilot ;)

However, I don't think it will simplify anything, if someone installs a triple redundant autopilot, 16 motors, 16 speed controllers, associated cables/equipment and a emergency parachute in a ultralight aircraft!

Btw, in 2006 Mr. Bradley Ward Hughey patented a "VERTICAL TAKEOFF AND LANDING AIRCRAFT USING A REDUNDANT ARRAY OF INDEPENDENT ROTORS".

Cheers!

The difference though is that the owner of the vehicle doesn't require any mechanical skills - replacing motors can be done with a screwdriver, replacing props is done with a spanner or hex key, etc.

Electrically, the pilot only needs to know not to mess with the polarity of connections and that's it.

In other words, a 10 year old could individually perform the majority of maintenance on this thing.
 

Avimimus

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shedofdread said:
From both studies we (work) undertook and from observation of other multi-rotor UAS (IIRC the large MicroDrone to name but one), there would appear to be an upper limit on the usable size of multi-rotor platforms. They get to a point where the inertia in the motor / rotor system prevents accurate control. This is one reason why the 'Falcon8' (an octocopter with very small motors and rotors) is so good in turbulence. The solution? Variable pitch! But now you have the complexity of a helicopter without the low disk loading and the ability to autorotate.... ;)

Y'know, old Igor (Sikorsky) was on to something...

To play devil's advocate: Couldn't this be solved through using smaller rotors as thrusters? Actually turning the whole rotor head (of a non-lifting rotor) using hydraulics?
 

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