TAXI!

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote this:

Those annoying little drones are about to change the way aircraft are designed and built.

Multi-rotor drones are more stable because the lift footprint (if there’s such a phrase) is wider, and when the rotors are distributed around the edges, the body interferes less with the air’s downward motion, which means the rotors provide more actual thrust.

By not wasting thrust you get more lift with shorter rotors, which require less power to rotate faster, amplifying the benefit of more rotors.

Processing power used in miniature drones allows the thrust on each rotor to be adjusted more responsively to changing conditions.

While I’m not big on the idea of pilotless passenger drones, I can see these innovations making the piloting of small aircraft simpler with computer-assist (as most of us already have to some extent in our cars), which could finally put personal VTOL flight within reach.

Today, via Drudge, I saw this:

German automobile firm Daimler and other investors have invested more than $29 million dollars (25 million euro) in aviation start-up Volocopter.

Volocopter plans to use the money to invest in further developing its electrically powered, autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft and ‘conquer’ the market for flying air taxis.

Volocopter’s ‘Volocopter 2X’ is a fully electric VTOL with 18 quiet rotors and a maximum airspeed of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour – and it can transport two passengers without a pilot.

<Heather O’Rourke> They’re here. </Heather O’Rourke>

The Volocopter is all-electric, and therefore has the same limitations as an electric car — range, and recharge time — but you have to start somewhere.

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