Overview of the Volocopter
The system flies — the pilot controls
It is the declared development goal of the Karlsruhe-based e-vole GmbH to construct the safest sports aircraft in the world. In addition the ground-breaking, vertical takeoff aircraft, the Volocopter, is easy to fly and emission-free. Thus in the case of the first manned, electrically operated helicopter the mechanics have been reduced to a minimum by contrast with conventional helicopters. The 2 seater ultralight aircraft is thus extremely low-maintenance. An extensive redundancy concept for all the electronic components also makes secure continued flying and secure landing possible even if several motors fail. The Volocopter is solely piloted using a joystick. Thus its handling is extremely easy by contrast with any other aircraft. The Karlsruhe-based company achieves zero emissions through replaceable energy sources such as rechargeable batteries. A serial hybrid solution is also possible upon request.
Development plan – modular platform for manned and unmanned aircrafts
The revolutionary safety, control and propulsion system of the Volocopter will serve as a platform for additional aircraft in the future. It is the perfect platform both for vertical takeoff manned aircraft and also for heavy-duty drones. The flight concept of the Volocopter facilitates piloted, remote-controlled or even completely autonomous air operations. In this way the most diverse applications purpose will become possible. The modular flight systems can be developed in various size categories. In this case a purely electric or hybrid form of propulsion can be used depending on your requirements. In line with demand the product family will be systematically extended by manned and unmanned systems in the coming years.
The key safety element with the Volocopter is the comprehensive redundancy concept of its components. Thus all the safety-relevant systems are present multiple times, mutually monitor each other and immediately rectify a potential malfunction of a component by jointly assuming their tasks. Even in the event of the malfunction of several motors the Volocopter can, for instance, still continue flying and landing safely. The system safety check of all components before the flight is performed automatically at the press of a button and reports the operational readiness following a successful inspection. When experiencing turbulence the pilot does not have to intervene as the situation is automatically compensated for by the aircraft. In this process the system reacts significantly more quickly than the pilot, i.e. in a fraction of a second. Even if the pilot should lose his sense of direction for a moment, the system still offers a solution. By pressing an emergency button the Volocopter stops in midair, is stabilized and slowly glides to the ground. In addition, the Volcopter is equipped with an overall rescue system in the form of a parachute. Using it the entire aircraft securely descends to the ground in an emergency.
In the case of conventional helicopters the mechanics are very intricate due to complicated drive and control mechanisms, the maintenance is extremely cost-intensive as a result of this. However, in the case of the Volocopter it is controlled without any mechanical parts meaning it is very low-maintenance. The bearings of the electric motors and the rotors also run virtually without any wear, their maintenance is consequently reduced to a minimum. Thus the Volocopter is much more economical in terms of its consumption levels, its care and servicing than a conventional helicopter.
Easy to fly
The control of an aircraft has until now required the great flying expertise of the pilot to monitor and correct the flight altitude. By contrast flying a vertical takeoff and landing Volocopter is very simple for the pilot as he flies by himself due to the fact the sensor technology generates the flight condition. This means the pilot stipulates the direction such as forwards, to the right, to the left, up and down and the electronics create the altitude. The adaptive altitude regulation then keeps the Volocopter in a stable position in the air. Thus its handling is child’s play by contrast with any other aircraft.
The pilot does not need to worry at all about the gliding angle, minimum speeds, stalling, mixture control, pitch adjustment and many other things that are so demanding in conventional flying, as he only specifies the direction. A ring-shaped frame carries 18 electrical motors which ensure the necessary uplift and serves to control the aircraft. Each one of them drives its own rotor. The rotors generate the entire uplift and additionally ensure the control of the aircraft through targeted changes in the rotational speed. In this process no mechanics for the pitch are necessary on the rotors by contrast with the conventional helicopter. The automatic position control and the direction control is achieved using several independent board computers that also mutually monitor one another, which separately control each motor’s speed of rotation. An optional, additional propulsion drive can facilitate even quicker flying speeds.
The new mobility trend is clearly moving towards environmental-friendly technologies: beginning with the car, via the e-bike and extending to the Volocopter. e-volo is the first company to develop a helicopter with an electric drive. This is also considerably quieter and thus reduces the levels of noise pollution. The Karlsruhe-based company achieves zero emissions through replaceable energy sources such as rechargeable batteries. Whilst a battery-powered flight duration of approx. 20 minutes can currently be realized, this will become as much as an hour and more in the near future. The 2 seater Volcopters will be developed as serial hybrid electrical aircraft to ensure flight times of several hours can now already be realized. To this end a combustion engine will drive a generator which for its part provides the battery and electrical motors with electricity. Other technologies that are in the process of development, such as the high-performance fuel cells that are suitable for the system, may also be considered as the source of power supply in the future.
- is safe
- flies like a helicopter
- is extremely easy to fly
- gets its own aviation class in Germany
- is driven electrically
- draws its energy from batteries or a serial hybrid
- does not generate any noise pollution
- is low-maintenance
- causes extremely low operating costs
- flies up to a speed of 100 kph
- weighs 450 kg with passengers
- is a 2 seater aircraft
- serves as a platform for additional manned and unmanned aircraft
Technical description of the Volocopter
The Volocopter is made of a light-weight, fiber composite material. In addition to cruise flights, it can also take-off and land vertically as well as hover in the air. The VC200 Volocopter runs on all-electric motors. The electric motors of its 18 rotors are powered by nine independent batteries. When in a floating state and with a 450 kg take-off weight, the VC200 requires about 45kW, depending on the air pressure / temperature. Its redundancy concept ensures stability, even if parts of the system were to fail. This principle is used in all system components that are necessary for safe flights. The necessary thrust required to provide buoyancy is achieved through several independently driven rotors, each with two fixed blades. Unlike a helicopter, the blade angle on the VC200 cannot be adjusted. The amount of thrust produced depends solely on the rotation speed of the different rotors.
Appropriate combination of the torques around the axis (roll and pitch), which are produced by the speed differences of the different rotors and that are perpendicular to the axis (yaw), as well as alterations in the total thrust produced by all the rotors enable the Volocopter to maneuver in all three rotational degrees of freedom (pitch, roll, and yaw), whereas the fixed setup of the rotors allows for translational movement (vertical, “up/down”). In combination with the position angle, the Volocopter is able to make flight movements in all six rotational and translational degrees of freedom as well as indirect horizontal movements (“forwards/backwards” and “rightwards/leftwards”).
Although the Volocopter initially exhibits what would seem to be unstable flight characteristics due to its relatively high number of rotors that have a fixed blade angle, its multi-redundant flight control system ensures precise altitude control and positioning stability. It is actually much more stable than conventional aircraft. It adheres to the pilot’s specifications and compensates for external effects independently. This makes flying it much easier, and the pilot can control the Volocopter safely, even in adverse environmental conditions.
The flight control system comprises of several completely independent units. Each flight control unit contains a complete set of positioning sensors that consist of pressure gauges, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers for all three spatial axes. Theoretically, each of the flight control units can control the VC200 independently. The Volocopter is operated with one hand using a joystick. The pilot intuitively controls all flight axes through rotational movements of the joystick’s axis. Rising and falling commands are given through an altitude control thumb button. In order to land, the pilot only needs to press and hold the button down until the Volocopter is on the ground. Once it nears the ground, the control system automatically slows down the Volocopter to ensure a gentle landing.