Tuesday December 11, 2018

Lift's Octadecarotor Aircraft is Almost Ready to Fly

While Uber, Google, and others are working on flying taxis, a small company from Austin, Texas intends to beat them to the punch. Lift Aircraft has developed a manned, 18-rotor VTOL aircraft called "Hexa," and they say it'll be ready soon. The company will start selling flight time in 2019, and claim the craft is significantly easier to fly that a helicopter. The controls are based on a "joystick and an iPad Pro," and ground control can take over if something happens to the pilot. Small batteries are mounted under each rotor for reliability, and they're supposedly good for about 10-15 minutes of flight. Check out the aircraft in action below:

Pilots will undertake a brief VR training session before they head out to the launch pad, to familiarize themselves with the control scheme. On the joystick, it's as simple as push to go in any direction, with a thumb control for altitude and an index finger control for yaw (the company initially thought a twist-to-turn yaw control would be more intuitive, but found it harder to use in flight tests than a separate control). The iPad touchscreen console will make things even simpler for beginner pilots, enabling one-touch takeoff and landing, and walking you through simple beginner tutorials much like you'd do as a first timer on a DJI drone. "There's not a lot of training required," Chasen tells us. "It's sort of like a video game, a game that you get to fly in." From there, you're off. As the Hexa will be flying under the ultralight classification (meaning it requires no certification or pilot's license), you'll be limited to flying under 700 feet, or 1200 feet in some locations, and not over any populated areas. Maximum speed for ultralights is 55 knots, or about 63 mph/101 km/h in terms of ground speed, and Chasen says if the Hexa turns out to be capable of going faster than that, it'll be electronically restricted from doing so.

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