A lot has happened since the Paris Air Show in June last year with the Workhorse SureFly drone topping the charts. The passenger drone has been granted an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate for test flights at the CES Las Vegas next week. The show is set to attract business and industry leaders from across the globe with breakthrough technologies and innovations.
At the top of our list of featured innovations is the SureFly drone from Workhorse. The VTOL aircraft has been expertly designed for safety, easy flying while still being affordable compared to other personal flight machines.
Workhorse SureFly Drone Update
Similar to other flying machines, the two-seat octocopter will autonomously transport passengers from point A to B. That said though, the first models will be operated by a pilot using a joystick controller. Last November the company announced manned flights but there is no confirmation at this point in time. The company is hoping to receive full approval from the FAA toward the end of 2019. One way or another, this test flight is not something to be missed.
The flying taxi industry is fast growing with loads of promise. Of course, a few companies have had their say and promised things they still need to deliver. In fact, the Ehang drone received an Airworthiness Certificate in 2016 for test flights in Nevada but no sign of it anywhere. Another example is the Volocopter in Dubai which has only been seen on video. Reports suggested a number of trials over the next five years so we’re definitely watching this space with bated breath.
SureFly drone is not the only machine Workhorse is working on. Other projects include an electric pickup truck and drone-launching vans. One of which was a proprietary system developed with UPS, the Workhorse HorseFly UAV Delivery system. It’s already commercially available and can autonomously deliver parcels up to 10 pounds with a flight time of 30 minutes. For even more peace of mind, the engines in the SureFly drone are also being used in the BMW i3 and the C600 Super Scooter.
SureFly Drone Specs and Performance
For those who missed out on the 2017 Paris Air Show, here are some highlights of the SureFly drone.
The two-seat octocopter weighs 1 100 kg and uses an electric quadcopter layout. It has two contra-rotating propellers on each corner and a range-extending petrol engine. Eight independent motors each drive a single carbon fiber propeller, a backup battery power system and a ballistic parachute to safely land in the event of an emergency.
- Maximum range is 70 miles (112 km) and a top speed of 70 mph (112 km/h). Compared to other electric flyers, the SureFly petrol engine can be refueled quickly.
- Dual Lithium Battery Packs: 7.5kWh each, used for emergency landing power (5 minutes) in the event the petrol generator fails
- Fuselage and props are carbon fiber for durability and lightweight
- Flight ceiling of 4000 feet
Initial reports suggest the primary applications for the SureFly drone are emergency responders, inter-city commuters, military, precision agriculture among others. According to their website, you can also reserve a SureFly drone for $1000. The company claims the target price is under $200 000 which is much more affordable than buying a helicopter.
Imagine all the applications this could essentially be used for. Do you have a few more ideas to add? Feel free to share your comments in the section below.
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