This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
By all accounts, our future skies are going to be clogged with , , ( ?), and . But here's one innovative new aircraft that I wouldn't mind seeing more of in the sky.
The Volocopter is an aircraft, developed by e-volo in Germany, that, like a helicopter, takes off and lands vertically, but it's propelled by 18 electric rotors, making it emissions free.
And now this innovative aircraft is getting closer to becoming a commercial reality. Last month, the company's two-person VC200 model made its maiden flight. And earlier this month e-volo kicked off a highly-successful crowdfunding campaign, raising 500,000 euros in just 2 hours and 35 minutes (a European crowdfunding record). It has since reached its funding limit of 1.2 million euros.
"The raised money will now serve to optimize the 1st prototype of the VC200 and, as part of the testing scheme, conclude a comprehensive test flight program for this new aviation category," e-volo said in a press release about the campaign. "After that, we will build a weight-optimized prototype of the VC200 near series production conditions and finalize type-certification and mold construction for series production."
The one thing holding back the electric aircraft is the very thing that makes it stand out, batteries. E-volo says that the maximum flight time for the VC200 is 20 minutes. In the near future, the company expects to be able to fly the aircraft for an hour on only electricity. But if battery technology doesn't improve as e-volo hopes, it's prepared by also developing the aircraft as a hybrid electrical aircraft to extend its range.
Still, while the aircraft faces battery challenges, there are some advantages over traditional helicopters. Notably, it's quieter and extremely light with a carbon exterior. Plus, operating the aircraft "is child’s play," meaning training pilots will take less time and money.
Have a look at the aircraft in flight: