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AeroQuad: the foldable, self-stabilizing VTOL personal flying platform


March 19, 2009

The AN-1 AeroQuad flying platform from Aeris Naviter

The AN-1 AeroQuad flying platform from Aeris Naviter

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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.

Loz Blain

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade. All articles by Loz Blain

Ummmm... Who the heck wants to stand on top of two rotor blades? Looks like a good way to lose some body parts to me.

Jonathan Hatfield

Crop spraying? Possibly. But the pilot will need a full filtration suit for most arable chemicals. Firefighting? Lacks carrying capacity. Possible use as an observational platform, but then a cherry picker can do that too. And doesn't create a draft that fans flames.

As far as anything to do with people or livestock goes, it's a non-starter. No way two counter rotating rotors at knee height is going to be anything other than a Health & Safety disaster. There's also precious little ground clearance for those rotor tips were a gust to catch the craft at the point of landing and tip it.

As for mountain work, they don't tell us what the powerplant is, but from the limited pictures there's no turbocharger and it's a conventional piston engine. So anything above about 6,000 ft and it would struggle to lift its own weight, much less 200kg

I think it's right to be sceptical. Perhaps they have videos of the craft performing all these claimed functions?

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