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Germans claim first flight of manned, electric helicopter

Beate Kern / e-volo

Thomas Senkel of e-volo flies the e-volo multicopter, a battery-powered helicopter with sixteen motors and rotors.

A three-man team from Germany has developed, and flown, a personal helicopter that's powered by lithium batteries running sixteen motors and turning sixteen rotors. You can read about it in msnbc.com's Future of Technology blog.  Be sure to check out the video below, too.

Beate Kern / e-volo

The propellers create the full lift, and are also responsible for balancing the device on all three axes only by independent speed control of the motors. E-volo from the beginning has been designed entirely as an electrically powered device. Unlike the rotor of a helicopter, the propellers donĀ“t have any pitch control and therefore no wear. These factors make the multicopter mechanically simple, with close to no maintenance necessary.

 

At the end of October 2011, Thomas Senkel of e-volo made the first manned flight with an e-powered multicopter at an airstrip in the southwest of Germany. The flight lasted one minute and 30 seconds, after which the constructor and test pilot stated: "The flight characteristics are good natured. Without any steering input it would just hover there on the spot". This could be the future of flight, piloting a device as simple as a car.