Every few years innovative engineers come up with inventions that they believe will be the transportation vehicle of the future - There was the jet-pack, the flying car and now, the futuristic looking e-volo multicopter, that purportedly will give traditional helicopters a run for their money.
The strange looking eco-friendly contraption that incorporates a yoga ball under the driver's seat (for a soft landing), is the brainchild of a team of three German engineer pals headed by Thomas Senkel. It comprises of sixteen propellers that enable it to lift off and land similar to the way helicopters do. However, unlike the helicopter it has no complicated mechanics or engine.
Instead, the battery powered e-volo uses it propellers to rise and stays balanced on its three axles. Also, it's far easier to fly than a normal helicopter thanks to the fact that its rotor speed is computer controlled - So all the pilot needs to maneuver it around, is use a joystick, just like when playing computer video games.
The team maintains that it is also much safer than helicopters, because if something goes wrong, e-volo can land safely even if up to four of its sixteen propellers malfunction. Also, since there are no propellers on top, it can be fitted with a safety parachute. Best of all, since the multicopter weighs a mere 176 pounds (80 kilograms), it is classified as an ultra light vehicle in most countries - Meaning that the user does not need to be a licensed pilot.
But, as is usually the case when something sounds too good to be true, e-volo can currently stay up in the air for a maximum half-hour, before its battery runs out. However, the three men believe that as technology evolves allowing the multicopter to travel for longer distances, it will be useful for just about anything - From leisure to when conventional helicopters are too expensive and big to use - things like taking aerial photographs or inspecting wind turbine or pipeline facilities. Given that each flight costs only about $16 USD, e-volo is even economical enough for commuting to work or better still, to school. Now how cool would that be!
Resources: green.autoblog.com, e-volo.com