March 19, 2009 We've written before about the nifty flying carpet-style PAM Individual Lifting Vehicle - now it seems there's another self-stabilizing coaxial dual-rotor flying platform on the way. The AN-1 AeroQuad, from Spain's Aeris Naviter, boasts all the key advantages of the PAM VTOL platform - it's as easy to pilot as a Segway, it'll fly for up to 5 hours, and happily hover at 20-30 feet with a maximum payload of 200kg - making it very handy for crop spraying, firefighting, aerial photography, lifeguarding, rescue and border control in mountainous areas. The AeroQuad moves forward from the PAM design, though, in that it comes in both land- or water-based configurations, and either one is able to fold up after use to a size so small you only need a half-trailer to transport it.
We've got our skepticism about Aeris Naviter - any company that claims to operate out of a building like this, and to have been flying prototype lifting platforms since 2003, should have a website a darn sight better than this. If the thing has been flying for 5 years, how come there's no photos of it in the air, and the best video we can see is the one at the bottom of this page?
Still, the AeroQuad product does look to be a real one, and the concept is fantastic. The coaxial lifting platform is a kind of short-range personal flight device, essentially comprising a standing platform, something to hang onto, and a pair of powered rotors under the pilot's feet that rotate in opposite directions. The counter-rotation of the two rotors cancels out the unbalanced effect of a single rotor lift.
Once airborne, you simply lean in the direction you wish to move, and the self-stabilizing Aeroquad will move you in that direction. If you wish to spin around, there's a hand control for yaw, as well as the rotor throttle. With minimal training, it's easy to get up and running.
The company claims to have kept the platform's weight under 100kg, while allowing a 200kg maximum payload. The small petrol engine can keep it in the air for as much as 5 hours at a time, and there's amphibious and land-based versions.
When you're done flying, the AeroQuad's rotors and skids (or pontoons, for the aquatic version) fold up in what looks like a fairly quick process. You then stick it on a tiny trailer and you're off. It's ultralight and FAR-103 certified.
There's no information on price or expected availability, but the AeroQuad joins a list of simple personal flight solutions that we'd love to get our hands on. See the video below for a CG demo of how the coaxial rotors work, and how the AeroQuad folds up.