The Martin Jetpack
being developed by Martin Aircraft Company in New Zealand has undergone a major design overhaul. Reemerging as the P12 prototype, the ducted-fan personal VTOL is fully certified for manned test flights as a Class 1 microlight. The first commercial sales, now expected in mid-2014, will be for first responder applications, such as rescue, fire, and police missions. According to the company, sales to individuals will follow shortly after the initial models are vetted in field use.
If you need a drone aircraft that can hover in one spot or perform vertical take-offs and landings (VTOL), then a multi-rotor contraption such as a quadcopter is the way to go. Should you be looking for something that can cover long distances as quickly and efficiently as possible, however, then a more traditional propellor-driven fixed-wing airplane will serve you better. So, what if you want both? Well, that’s where Latitude Engineering’s Hybrid Quadrotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) comes in. Putting it simply, it’s a quadcopter/fixed-wing combo.
For those readers who haven’t been following its progress, SpaceX’s Grasshopper
is a prototype reusable launch vehicle that’s designed to perform a vertical landing back on Earth after delivering its payload into space. While it’s already managed a few low-altitude test hops, yesterday (Aug. 13) it reached a new milestone by performing a “lateral divert test.”
Back in June, SpaceX's Grasshopper
reusable VTOL rocket was flown to an altitude of 325 meters (1,066 feet) before landing on its original launch pad. The video of the flight (taken by a hexacopter drone hovering at 325 meters) has now been made available. The purpose of the flight was to test Grasshopper's full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to improve the precision of its landings. Grasshopper is designed to develop and test the technologies needed to return a reusable rocket from space missions. (There is no word on whether the cowboy mannequin was carried along by Grasshopper on this flight.)
Attempts to combine the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a helicopter with the high-speed flight and long range capabilities of a fixed-wing aircraft have been tackled in a number of different ways – from tiltrotor designs, such as the V-280 Valor
and Project Zero
, to fixed rotor aircraft that transition from vertical to horizontal flight, such as the SkyTote
. Australian company StopRotor Technology has taken a different approach with its Hybrid RotorWing design concept which features a main rotor that switches from fixed rotor to fixed wing in mid air.
California-based Aeros Corporation
has completed construction of its Aeroscraft
airship proof-of-design sub-scale prototype. The 79-meter (260-ft) long aircraft will demonstrate the vertical take-off and landing and point to point delivery capabilities of the platform, paving the way for a planned full-scale craft that will be almost twice as long and carry payloads of up to 66 tons.
The dirigible airship, the oddball aircraft of another era, is making a comeback. California-based Aeros Corporation
has created a prototype of its new breed of variable buoyancy aircraft and expects the vehicle to be finished before the end of 2012. With its new cargo handling technology, minimum fuel consumption, vertical take-off and landing features and point to point delivery, the Aeroscraft platform promises to revolutionize airship technology.
SpaceX's Falcon rocket has proven that it can fly
, and now the private space transport company's Grasshopper is proving that it can hop. The vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle is part of a reusable first stage for Falcon 9 that's being developed by SpaceX to cut down on the cost of missions to space. On Friday, the Grasshopper took its first tiny test flight.
When we first covered the Martin Jetpack
back in March, 2010, the creators were hoping to get it on the backs of buyers sometime in 2011. While 2011 has come and gone, the New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company is continuing test flights and is now seeking investors to help bring the manned Jetpack to market in mid 2013.