The Volocopter, a 18-rotor personal flying machine developed by the German company e-volo, has made its first official manned test flight, and it went off without a hitch. You may know the Volocopter from its earlier appearances as a horrifying deathtrap where you sit above the blades, but this more polished model looks a lot less likely to murder you. It is maybe, just maybe, the closest thing we get to flying cars in the near future.
Here’s the flight, complete with a Very Epic Score:
Despite its crazy looks, the Volocopter has a few tricks up its sleeve that make it very appealing as a personal flying device. It’s electric powered, for one. And just like the numerous propellers on consumer drones help stabilize the crafts for easy flying even by novices, the Volocopter’s veritable army of rotors should make it much more stable than your average helicopter.
e-volo has tested its design with over 100 unmanned flights, but now that a human has actually piloted one, it’s on to a whole new round of testing. This first test had the craft hit speeds of 15 mph at pretty low altitudes, but further tests will push it closer to its max speed of 60 mph.
However those tests go, at least one thing is very clear: Designs that put the human below the blades are much better than designs that put the human above them.