Workhorse's flying taxi has taken off with a person inside it for the first time It hovered a foot above ground for a few seconds before touching back down It is a two person, 8 rotor helicopter designed for a short hop application with an estimated 70 mile range and an on-board redundant backup battery system The Surefly drone was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June last year
Surefly, a division of Workhorse, has successfully sent its flying taxi into the air with a person inside it for the first time.
The Surefly drone completed a successful manned and untethered test hover outside of Cincinnati.
Workhorse is the only company with the necessary FAA experimental certification to test this type of vehicle in the United States, according to the company.
The Surefly drone was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June last year.
'The mechanics of flying this are completely different than any traditional helicopter or airplane,' said Chief Operating Officer John Graber.
The pilot in this aircraft is going to tell a computer through a fly-by wire system 'take me over there' and the computer's gonna figure out how to do that in a way that is safe and reliable and comfortable.
'It takes the way self-driving cars are making the highways safer, it takes that to aviation,' Graber continued.
The drone has eight independent motors that each drive a single carbon fiber propeller. If one of the motors fails, it can still be landed.
The flying taxi also has a gasoline generator, and if that should fail it still has five minutes of flying time on a lithium battery. For worst-case scenarios, it comes with a ballistic parachute for safe landing.
'It's a very nice aircraft, it's very well-designed. It's cutting edge, state of the art. It's gonna be very safe, it's gonna be very reliable.' said Graber.
While its initial hover may not look impressive, it's certainly an enormous step towards future development.
'For a craft like this, hovering is not much different than flying, so next step afterward we'll hover maybe five feet then 10 feet and then eventually we'll start to fly,' said Surefly's CEO Steve Burns.
The drone can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, one hour of flight time on a tank of gasoline, and an altitude of up to 4,000 feet.
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