E-volo's battery-powered, manned multicopter prototype is a long way from safety certification, but it was able to carry its designer-pilot, Thomas Senkel, aloft for a successful one-and-half-minute test flight at a German airstrip recently. You can watch video of the first flight at World's first manned flight with an electric multicopter.
Senkel controlled the multicopter with a hobbyist radio control transmitter perched in his lap while sitting atop a balance ball shock absorber amidst a whirring array of 16 rotors driven by small three-phase electric motors. Each motor was powered by a pair of six-cell, 25-volt lithium polymer batteries, each of approximately five amp-hours capacity. A three-phase electronic speed controller provided the pulse-width-modulated drive for each motor.
"The flight characteristics are good natured," said Senkel. "Without any steering input, it would just hover there on the spot."
e-volo plans to manufacture multicopters for sale to the public, claiming "This could be the future of flight, piloting a device as simple as a car."