Eurocopter's X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator combined the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter with the fast cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft by basically installing two propellers on short-span fixed wings to supplement the helicopter's five-blade main rotor system. Now a new type of remote control model aircraft is looking to combine the hover capabilities of a helicopter with the ability to fly like an airplane in a completely different design. Instead of the quadricopter design employed by the Parrot AR Drone, the Quadshot uses a "flying wing" design with its four rotors allowing it to hover vertically like a helicopter or turn horizontal and swoop through the air like a stunt plane.

The Quadshot is being developed by Santa Cruz engineers Piotr Esden-Tempski, Chris Forrette, Jeff Gibboney, and Pranay Sinha and features a body consisting of a one meter (39 inch)-long curved wing, that has four motors/rotors located along its length. That wing is made of EPP foam, containing a carbon fiber spar for added strength. Even though the rotors aren't arranged in the symmetrical X layout used by most quadricopters, video shot by the inventors seems to indicate that it still performs helicopter-like flight quite well.

With a reported "flip of a switch," however, the Quadshot can be flown like a regular fixed-wing airplane. Should you want to really put it through its paces, there's even a stunt-specific aerobatic flight mode, while a built-in camera mount lets users record crazy POV footage from onboard. When it's time to land, the aircraft just goes back to heli mode, and settles back-end-first onto the ground.

All of this switching back and forth is made possible by the Quadshot's electronic brain, named Lisa/M. Among other things, Lisa features an Inertial Measurement Unit, which contains accelerometers and gyroscopes that let the system know which way the aircraft is pointing, and how fast its rotors are rotating. By combining that information with user commands, Lisa is able to make the different flight modes possible. Lisa is also open-source, so users can tweak "her" to perform specific functions as they think of them.

The inventors are currently in the process of raising funds from potential buyers, in order to finance large-scale commercial production. A pledge of US$300 will reserve you a fully-assembled Quadshot, once they're ready to go. The anticipated regular retail price is $400.

The video below shows a prototype in action.

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    About the Author

    Ben Coxworth

    An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.

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    • Interesting. Basically it\'s a flying wing with a phenomenal power to weight ratio. That allows it to\"hover\", although most fixed wing pilots would see the demo and define it as \"hanging on to the prop\", albeit very effectively. Functionally, it reminds me of various tail-sitter VTO planes from the 1950s

    • While it may have its uses.why not use a single motor ducted fan, a la JL Nnaudin flying saucer. this device use the \"Coanda\" effect.\" A .5 metre flying saucer can carry a payload in excess of half a kilo. Yes it can also hover like chopper. Regards John M

      John M
    • So, unlike the single, or double, axis prop-rotor tail-sitters such as the following:

      NASA's Puffin vertical take-off and landing tail sitter aircraft concept. 11-year-old Aeronautics Tail-Sitter V-TOL UAV with 10 ft wingspan and 40 HP engine, having 2 RF command uplinks, available from store.

      AeroVironment Skytote tail sitter (As of August 2010, the SkyTote appears as a past product on the company websites).

      As well as the Lockheed XFV Salmon, Convair XFY Pogo, Ryan X-13 Vertijet, and the French SNECMA C-450 Coléoptère

      . . . the Quad-PropRotor Quadshot offers simple rotor-thrust differentiation for VTOL maneuvering, common to Quad Rotor designs?

      John M; show me a Coanda Effect vertical-axis ducted fan vehicle that has the speed in forward fight possible with conventional winged aircraft!!!

    • And there are a lot of rc aircraft designs out there that can be hovered for less than $100 although they do not land on their tails and are not assisted by a micro-controller.

      Will, the tink

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