Hybrid Electric Drone Copter 'SureFly' Lifts Off in Its First Manned Flight

Friday, 04 May 2018 - 7:43PM
Technology
Gadgets
Friday, 04 May 2018 - 7:43PM
Hybrid Electric Drone Copter 'SureFly' Lifts Off in Its First Manned Flight
< >
YouTube/Workhorse Group
The era of flying taxis may be coming soon. And if/when it does, hailing a giant passenger drone to fly you to work will be a commonplace part of your daily commute.

Ohio-based company Workhorse took their first steps toward that with the maiden voyage of SureFly, a flying taxi which appears to be a helicopter at first glance, but is actually a giant vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) drone designed to carry human passengers. It wasn't a glamorous flight - it hovered about five feet in the air - but simply getting it off the ground is an achievement in itself. 

See it in action below:



To go more into specifics, SureFly is an two-seater octocopter with a hybrid engine combining diesel and battery power, capable of carrying 400 pounds (181 kilograms) over a range of 70 miles (112 kilometers). Or at least it will be able to carry objects that far once it goes on some larger test flights. 

Once it does get itself in the air, Workhorse believes their flying taxi could have a wide variety of uses, owing to SureFly being easier to fly and cheaper (granted, their target price is "under $200,000", which is still not cheap) than a typical helicopter. Speaking to Digital Trends, Workhorse CEO Steve Burns went into detail over how exactly the average citizen could get some use out of their own flying machine:

Opening quote
"It's designed to be less expensive, safer, and easier to fly than a helicopter. The reason that everyone doesn't currently have a helicopter in their garage is because of those three issues. We think that if you can have something moderately priced, easy enough that anyone can fly, and that people will feel safe in, there are tons of applications.

It could be a farmer checking on his cattle; it could be an emergency responder able to get to the scene of an accident faster than a road ambulance; it could be military, an air taxi, or just someone wanting to avoid traffic in the city. There are a lot of uses for a short-hop electric flying machine."
Closing quote


Hopefully SureFly will be running some more flight soon, because it has some potential competition: Airbus has a single passenger electric VTOL named Vahana which has gone on some longer flights, although it's unclear whether they have plans to sell it commercially to anybody who wants one. If so, then that will also not be cheap.

But if you think you'll have the money saved up in a few years, then a giant hybrid drone could be a great alternative to a boring old flightless car.

Science
Science News
Technology
Gadgets
No