While it may look like an ordinary helicopter from a distance, the Volocopter is the first of its kind. This helicopter-drone hybrid uses a circular web of 18 rotors to lift itself off the ground, and as reported by The Verge, it recently carried its first human passenger.
The aircraft was first conceptualized in 2010, and since then the company e-volo has been experimenting with unmanned flights. After finally receiving permission to fly in Germany, the Volocopter launched under the guidance of an onboard pilot for the first time ever on March 30. The team released an electro-music-scored video (above) of the flight earlier this week.
Alexander Zosel, e-volo's managing director, hovered the craft in the air for several minutes before eventually returning to solid ground. While it didn't ascend any more than a few meters, the company says they hope to hit higher altitudes and speeds of 30 mph in their next test, followed by a test that aims to reach 62 mph.
E-volo next plans to mass-produce the Volocopter for use in the "air sports market" and "air taxi services." It can either fly autonomously or be piloted from the cockpit using a joystick and touch-screen. The emissions-free aircraft is powered electronically, and the company claims that NASA has expressed interest in using it as an alternative means of transportation in Silicon Valley.
The Volocopter isn't the first drone-inspired vehicle built for human cargo. Earlier this year, the single-passenger Ehang 184 debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But compared to the Volocopter, its eight propellers feel slightly underwhelming.
[h/t The Verge]
Header/banner images courtesy of e-volo via YouTube.