Despite always generating plenty of interest, getting a personal flight vehicle off the ground can be a huge undertaking – just ask Malloy Aeronautics, which has been forced to scale its Hoverbike down, selling a one-third-scale drone to raise funds to continue development of the larger, manned Hoverbike. But a Hungarian team is looking onwards and upwards after having achieved the first manned flight of its Flike tricopter concept demonstrator.
GoPro CEO Nick Woodman has confirmed long-swirling rumors that his company will tap into the fast-growing drone market, outlining plans to launch its own quadcopter in 2016. Making the announcement at the Code Conference in California on Wednesday, Woodman also spoke of a spherical six-camera array that could capture content for virtual reality applications.
Sikorsky's S-97 Raider prototype helicopter, which was revealed to the world last year, has taken to the air for the first time. Based on the design of the X2 Technology Demonstrator, the S-97 Raider features coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller and is intended as a multi-mission aircraft to replace the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter and the Special Forces’ MH-6 Little Bird.
One hour of flight time, a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), a payload of 5 kg (11 lb) – these are big figures for a drone, and figures that are basically out of reach using today's LiPo battery technology. But German startup Yeair! believes it's possible using a hybrid system in which each rotor is driven by two motors – an electric, and a two-stroke 10cc gasoline engine. And the Yeair! team has its sights set on something even more impressive down the track – personal flight in a two-seater hybrid octocopter. The quadcopter of the future, according to German startup Yeair!, will eclipse the performance of current quads by using the fuel of the future… Gasoline. Wait, what?
While there's a great deal of excitement surrounding the concept of autonomous delivery drones, the aircraft would
likely all utilize GPS to navigate – and GPS satellites aren't always
available. That's why Prof. Martinez Carranza has developed a new drone
navigation system, that's based purely on visual observations.
A future in which we're all flying around on hoverboards may not have materialized just yet, but it does appear to be getting closer. After Hendo's magnetic hoverboard was announced last year, a new world record for the farthest hoverboard flight has now been set. And there wasn't a magnet in sight.
Although personal drones are becoming increasingly popular, a lot of
people are still understandably intimidated by their exposed propellers.
Not only can those whirling blades hurt people, but they also regularly
get damaged in crashes. That's why Pasadena, California-based Polyhelo
created the Nano Tornado. It's a quadcopter, but instead of open props
it utilizes four ducted fans.
The Concorde may be just a memory, but some aircraft manufacturers still see supersonic aircraft as the future of civilian aviation. To allow for widespread supersonic flight over populated areas without shattering windows and frightening chickens, electronics firm Rockwell Collins has been awarded a two-year NASA contract to develop a 3D cockpit display to help pilots of future supersonic aircraft to mitigate or eliminate sonic booms.
Quadcopters have shot to fame on the back of their remarkable agility and versatility, but not everybody is bowing at the altar of four-rotored supremacy. In a marked departure from popular drone design, US startup Ascent Aerosystems has developed a two-prop aerial vehicle with a HD-quality camera and cylindrical form that's designed to be conveniently slid into a backpack when you're headed outdoors.
A couple of years ago, UK-based product designer Witek Mielniczek turned to Kickstarter to fund B – a combination radio-controlled car and quadcopter.
Its ability to both fly through the air and drive along the ground was
certainly intriguing, although its ability to traverse rough terrain
wasn't necessarily phenomenal. That's why he's now created B-Unstoppable, which swaps wheels for neoprene tank-like treads.