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Mega-drone taxis edge closer to reality



 
 
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Old January 19th 18, 05:18 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Posts: 3,824
Default Mega-drone taxis edge closer to reality

https://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/...-230190-1.html
When Government Can't Keep Up

By Russ Niles | January 19, 2018

As the U.S. girds for another budget showdown that threatens to shut
down the government, aviation, deemed an essential service in most
respects, will soldier on. The thousands of FAA, DOT and other
government workers who keep it going will go through an annoying and
deflatingly disrespectful round of claiming retroactive wages and
living without until the politicians wear out this particular set of
hot-button issues.

As the arcane system goes through its predictable motions and intrigue
through the unending news cycle, the rest of the world is marching on
and it begs the question of whether technology has eclipsed government
as the fundamental arbiter of how society is shaped.

While the tawdry mess played out in Washington, in Las Vegas, the
future of aviation as a viable transit option was on display. At the
Consumer Electronics Show, a host of blue chip companies showed they
were ready for a world of autonomous drones whisking passengers safely
and economically from point to point.

The FAA’s Office of UAS Integration was there but we have to wonder if
they were spectators or participants. The sheer number of demos and
announcements regarding the airborne use of technology to move people
about was staggering. The basic nuts and bolts have been proven and
they will be refined as all the smart people who got the technology
this far smooth out the inevitable bumps.

But first they have to be able to fly in real-world conditions and if
that’s in the FAA’s plans, they’re keeping it to themselves. So far,
most of the public announcements coming from the office have to do
with inflated nuisance issues regarding conflicts between hobby drones
and manned aircraft. Nobody wants to hit a drone but at CES the
hardware was so many generations ahead of the two-pound hobby drones
that are the subject of that discourse as to be irrelevant to the
actual issues surrounding unmanned systems.

To its credit, the FAA has established the UAS Integration Pilot
Program. Unfortunately, the term “pilot” is being used in the sense
that it’s an experimental or first foray into looking at the topic and
has nothing to do with flying, which the tech companies are ready to
do.?

Nevertheless, the program, which put applicants through a gauntlet of
application stages ending a few weeks ago, does seem to have the
correct goal to “accelerate safe UAS integration.”

Although the deadlines for the last of the complicated applications
passed on Jan. 4, there has been no indication of who will be the Lead
Applicants and Interested Parties chosen to influence what will shape
what can only be described as a revolution in aviation.

But as the folks who will not only decide who those participants will
be but will rule on their recommendations face the coming weeks
without paychecks, a half dozen companies are ready to land a
pilotless drone on their apartment building roofs to take them
wherever they want to go.

Government is supposed to be slow and methodical to make sure its
decisions are well founded and deliberate but when government gets too
far behind the technology curve it sets up two unsavory scenarios.

One is a steadfast devotion to process and interdepartmental
navel-gazing that stifles innovation and inevitably sends cutting-edge
companies elsewhere to find the regulatory underpinnings of their
businesses.

But perhaps more dangerous is the surrender of regulation in the
absence of the infrastructure to create it in the face of mounting
public and political pressure to accommodate the next big thing.

The next big thing is here. How the regulators react will
fundamentally shape how it integrates not only into the NAS but into
society as a whole.

Unfortunately, for a generally positive outcome, the government has to
do a couple of things it can have trouble doing. It has to get it
right and it has to do it quickly.

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolog...loser-reality/

Mega-drone taxis edge closer to reality

A Volocopter drone flies on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show

Margi Murphy

11 January 2018 • 12:44pm

Forget driverless Uber taxis, remotely-piloted passenger drones may
soon be just a tap of a smartphone app away.

At least, that's the hope for German drone manufacturer Volocopter,
which took its first passenger for a ride in its flagship two-seater
drone during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

The drone boasts "very stable and safe flight characteristics", a
company spokesman claimed and is designed for use as an autonomous air
taxi in large cities.

It uses Intel processors to monitor for turbulence, winds and
constantly sends signals to the rotors so they can react and perform
"instantly" using battery-powered electric motors.

It has already been granted permission to fly in Germany and has
conducted several autonomous test flights in Dubai.
A Volocopter helicopter stands on display at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto
Show on September 12, 2017 in Frankfurt
A Volocopter helicopter stands on display at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto
Show on September 12, 2017 in Frankfurt Credit: Getty

The battle of the pilot-less helicopter is set to heat up in the
United Arab Emirates, as Uber launched its own taxi-style helicopter
in Dubai and is investing heavily in autonomous drone technology.

Beleaguered Brian Krzanich, the head of Intel, was first to take a
seat in the air taxi. The company is suffering a major publicity
problem after it emerged its microprocessors may have left billions of
devices vulnerable to hackers.

But this did not stop Mr Krzanich, who faces questions over selling of
shares and options in the company ahead of a public disclosure about
the flaw, from promoting the Volocopter, a company that Intel has
invested in.

Far from soaring above the rocky Nevada landscape, however, the drone
carried Mr Krzanich into the keynote theatre at the tech show.

"Everybody will fly one of these someday,” said Krzanich.

Volocopter said it has plans to make its first piloted routes within
the next three to five years.
The Surefly two man done on display in Las Vegas
The Surefly two man done on display in Las Vegas

But it was not the only mega-drone in town. Competitor Workhouse was
also at CES to show of its taxi, SureFly, which is already taking
orders for the $200,000 "octocopter". However, its test flight was
thwarted by light drizzle, despite being billed as one of the
highlights of the trade fair.

Uber itself has said it is aiming to launch an autonomous drone flying
taxi service in Los Angeles by 2020, having penned a deal with US
space agency NASA.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://dronedj.com/2018/01/10/bell-...e-at-ces-2018/

Bell Helicopter and Uber show taxi drone at CES 2018

Haye Kesteloo

- Jan. 10th 2018 11:39 am ET
View Comments

Uber and Bell Helicopter are showing off a four-passenger taxi drone
simulator at CES this year. The drone is meant to fly people from A to
B on fixed routes, for instance from a train station or parking garage
to an airport. The drone can be flown manually by a pilot or it can
fly itself. Neither Uber or Bell offered any details on the propulsion
system, unfortunately. We do know however that it has VTOL capability,
i.e. vertical take-off and landing.

DJI Inspire 2

Uber air taxi is an experience

One of Mashable’s writers had the opportunity to get into the
Uber/Bell taxi drone and had this to say about the experience:

Then I got a ride in the cab of Bell’s beast, which was a real
mock-up, at least. In each seat was an HTC Vive, and after putting one
on, I was soon taking a virtual ride over the skyline to the local
airport. While in flight, the simulation had a few sample user
experiences, showing what it would be like to get news highlights,
view a map, take a FaceTime call, and a couple of other things. In a
few minutes, the aircraft landed at a dedicated heliport at the
airport, and showed a message that I had saved 45 minutes over taking
a car.

Of course, there are a few hurdles to overcome before we see air taxis
throughout our cities. Some of those obstacles are regulatory whereas
others are more practical. The two main concerns people seem to have
are safety and noise. Uber/Bell is trying to overcome the safety
concerns by implementing several safety mechanisms or a ‘multi-failure
system’ as they like to call it. Again, we have no information on what
this actually means as nothing was disclosed on the propulsion system
for this particular taxi drone. As far as noise is concerned,
Uber/Bell are trying to make this drone as quiet as possible to
overcome any such concerns.

Air taxi space is getting crowded

The taxi or passenger drone space is getting pretty crowded already
and Uber/Bell are not alone. Other competitors include the Volocopter,
which had its first flight in Dubai recently. The Ehang 184 personal
drone, the Autonomous Passenger drone, and Workhorse’s Surefly taxi
drone, that is supposed to be demo-ed for real (no simulator) at CES
2018.

We will keep you posted here on DroneDJ as more taxi drone news comes
out. What do you think about using drones for people transportation?
Are you in the camp of people who can’t wait for this to become a
reality or are you more cautious and see taxi drones as a nuisance?
Let us know in the comments below.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.volocopter.com/en/

At Volocopter we are building the first manned, fully electric and
safe VTOL in the world. We want to make humanity’s dream of flying
come true and help modern cities resolve their increasing mobility
issues.

SAFE
The Volocopter 2X complies with stringent German and International
safety standards.

PLEASANTLY QUIET
Incredibly quiet incorporating state-of-the-art components that
optimize the acoustic signature.

AUTONOMOUS
The Volocopter 2X can fly completely autonomously or be easily
operated using a joystick and assistive systems for support.

ELECTRIC
No combustion engine. No fuel. No direct emissions. 100 % electric.

GERMAN ENGINEERING
Perfection. Safety. Reliability: Made in Germany.

A REALITY TODAY
The world’s first multicopter with a certificate for manned flight.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

http://passengerdrone.com/

FLIGHT CONTROL AND NAVIGATION

Passenger Drone aircraft is equipped with high-end technologies like
Adaptive Flight Control, Fiber Optic Internal Communications, Field
Oriented Motor Control , Encrypted Communication Channels. Our drone
can take off, land and perform all stages of flight maneuvering
completely autonomously, guided securely via LTE (4G) network, or on
board controlled. You can take over at any time via the Touch Flight
Control or fly-by-wire joystick.

A LEADER IN FLIGHT SUPPORT SOFTWARE

Passenger Drones use cutting-edge technology wrapped with
user-friendly interface developed by our experienced and dedicated
team of programmers. Our Glass Cockpit Avionics flight support
software allows passengers to input their destination quickly and fly
there precisely without the use of a joystick (a joystick is provided
for fly-by-wire override).

UNMATCHED CONNECTIVITY

Our drones are equipped with remote LTE (4G) telemetry and control
capability, meaning they can send flight information in real time, use
situational awareness, ADS-B display of local air traffic, real time
weather radar and immersive 3D terrain data. Also, our aerial vehicles
can be 100% remotely controlled by our Ground Control and Monitoring
Center, allowing an operator located as far away as the EU or Asia to
fly a North America-based aircraft safely and efficiently.


FLIGHT CONTROL AND NAVIGATION

Passenger Drone aircraft is equipped with high-end technologies like
Adaptive Flight Control, Fiber Optic Internal Communications, Field
Oriented Motor Control , Encrypted Communication Channels. Our drone
can take off, land and perform all stages of flight maneuvering
completely autonomously, guided securely via LTE (4G) network, or on
board controlled. You can take over at any time via the Touch Flight
Control or fly-by-wire joystick.

A LEADER IN FLIGHT SUPPORT SOFTWARE

Passenger Drones use cutting-edge technology wrapped with
user-friendly interface developed by our experienced and dedicated
team of programmers. Our Glass Cockpit Avionics flight support
software allows passengers to input their destination quickly and fly
there precisely without the use of a joystick (a joystick is provided
for fly-by-wire override).


1
11
d8
d10



Passenger Drones use cutting-edge, user-friendly technology developed
by our experienced and dedicated team of programmers and engineers.
Our Glass Avionics Display software and firmware allows passengers to
input their destination quickly and to fly there without the use of a
joystick (a joystick is provided in case of emergency).

Our drones have remote telemetry capability, meaning they can send
information in real time and use ADS-B display of local air traffic by
way of 4G capability. Also, our aerial vehicles can be 100% remotely
controlled by 4G technology, allowing an operator located as far away
as the EU or Asia to fly a North America-based aircraft safely and
efficiently.

Flight Director & Navigation – Passenger Drone can take off, land and
perform all stages of flight based on pre-programmed flight path or
could be guided remotely via our 4G network. You can take over at any
time via the joystick on board or using the touch avionics displays.

Passenger Drone is run strictly on FIBRE OPTICS. With the exception of
the main power cables, there is not a single wire in the entire
aircraft. From the connection between the Joystick to Main Control CPU
to every engine controller to the navigation screens, everything is
communicated by LIGHT.

Empty Weight ( including batteries) : 240kg ( 520lbs)
Maximum Take Off Weight: 360kg ( 800lbs)
Maximum Thrust : 560kg (1230lbs)
Maximum Payload : 120KG ( 270lbs)
Maximum Speed: 60-70km/h (45mph)
Flight time: 20-25 mins (without range extender)
Dimensions (L x W x H): 4200mm x 2300mm x 1800mm (165? x 90? x
70?)
Two Passenger Seats
16 Engines and Propellers
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://dronedj.com/2018/01/07/faa-w...refly-ces2018/

FAA allows Workhorse Surefly personal helicopter drone to fly at
CES2018

Haye Kesteloo

- Jan. 7th 2018 10:35 am ET
Feature
View Comments

Workhorse’s Surefly personal helicopter drone was first shown to the
public during the Paris Air Show in June of 2017. Now we have learned
that Workhorse has received an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate
from the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to fly their personal
drone during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next
week.

The Surefly is a hybrid octocopter that can carry two passengers. The
aerial vehicle can be flown manually with a joystick. Something that
should be as easy as flying a DJI drone, according to Workhorse. Or it
can be flown in a fully autonomous (drone) mode using sense-and-avoid
technology to bring its passengers safely to their destination. A
4-cylinder gasoline engine charges the batteries, which in turn power
the electric motors for the eight propellers. The personal helicopter
has a range of 70 miles and can lift 400 lbs. The rotor arms can be
folded as shown in the photos below.

DJI Inspire 2

Safety first was Surefly’s main objective

The main focus point while developing the Surefly has been safety,
says Patrick Conners from Workhorse. In case of engine failure, the
batteries provide enough power to bring the personal helicopter down
safely from 4,000 feet altitude. If the batteries were to fail as well
than a ballistic parachute can be deployed to bring the Surefly safely
back to earth. It also features a crumple zone to protect the people
inside the aircraft.

The goal was to make the Surefly both safer and more affordable than
traditional helicopters. The Surefly from Workhorse will be priced
below $200,000 USD. Falling carbon fiber and battery costs have
allowed Workhorse to bring down the price of the personal helicopter.

The FAA has approved Workhorse’s Surefly personal helicopter drone to
fly during the CES event. We are curious to see next week whether
Workhorse will allow members of the press or public to test fly this
exciting drone. Workhorse expects to receive a full FAA approval
sometime in 2019.
The competition is heating up

Of course, Workhorse is not alone in the personal helicopter drone
space. Other competitors include the Volocopter, which had its first
flight in Dubai recently. The Ehang 184 personal drone and the
Autonomous Passenger drone. The main difference between these three
aerial vehicles and the Surefly from Workhorse is that fact that the
latter is not only powered by electricity but offers a hybrid
solution, using both gasoline and electricity to improve safety.
Photos and video of the Surefly
https://dronedj.com/2018/01/07/faa-w...-carousel-4092

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