Opener Unveils First Ultralight Electric Personal VTOL Aircraft for US Market

cageymaru

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Opener which is partially financed by Google co-founder Larry Page has announced that their Blackfly ultralight electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft has passed US certifications. While there is no license required to fly the vehicle, they will require a FAA Private Pilot written examination like a pilot would take and an introductory course. You can check out the specifications here.

The things that stood out to me were the amphibious capabilities, 25 mile range, 25 minute charging time, 32 F - 86 F operating temperature and 250 lbs payload limit. It even has an Automatic Return-to-Home button for training purposes.

"OPENER is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation," said Marcus Leng, CEO. "We will offer competitive pricing in an endeavor to democratize three-dimensional personal transportation. Safety has been our primary driving goal in the development of this new technology. OPENER will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner. Even though not required by FAA regulations, BlackFly operators will be required to successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training."
 

Mohonri

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My guess is that this will fly more like a quadcopter, i.e. you tell it what direction you want to go, and it handles all the piloting for you.

Why? Because to qualify as an ultralight in the US, it can't exceed 55 knots in level flight. And if it has enough power for VTOL, it *definitely* has enough power to exceed 55 knots.

Also, it's worth pointing out that the passenger's weight will have a HUGE impact on range.
 

IRSmurf

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Meh. I'll wait for the Dyson VTOL.

RingWing.jpg
 

velusip

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Well RIP for any one near someone "flying" this. People already can't control vehicles in 2-D, they sure as fuck won't be able to do this in 3-D.
I'm sure user input it just a suggestion to the level of comprehensive control/computation required to keep such a thing in the air. :)
 

Disco_Stu_04

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Imagine one of these waining around your next trip to a national park or at the beach...

Also, does anyone here have something you'd want to fly to within 12.5 miles that this would even be applicable?
 

XenIneX

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Crap. Just like every other manned electric multi-rotor.


25-mile range

20-mile round-trip, you mean. Because, no-way are you parking it at the 7-11 for 8 hours to charge -- you need to get it back home to your 240v/100a service for a "reasonable" half-hour charge. (Minus 5 miles for the requisite shit happens allowance.)


32F - 86F temperature range

So, 32F on the low end means there's no margin in the battery capacity. 86F on the top of the range means they can't figure out how to cool the batteries (despite having 8 freebie massive potential radiator fans) This does not instill confidence.


Short battery life + lots of charge cycles + rapid charge/discharge rate + running the batteries super-hot

This is going to be incredibly hard on the batteries. When your R/C quadcopter's battery pack goes to crap, you're out maybe $100. A pack replacement on this mistake is going to be on the order of $10k. And if they can't figure out cooling, how much do you trust that they've got fire-safety figured out for when one of the hard-abused cells decides to give out?


"Price of an SUV"

So... I'm guessing $80k+ (Range Rover territory) here? Same price every implementation of this bad idea ends up. For a fraction of the price, you could get into a powered paraglider or a proper ultralight, which are good for hours of flight on a tank of gas, and can actually get further away from their point of origin than line of sight. Also, they've got the cred of being legit hobbies, whereas the R/C-less multirotor will never be anything other than a toy.



In summation; multirotors: sweet R/C toys; cool camera platforms; interesting utility drones; absolutely garbage human conveyances.
 

Elios

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Crap. Just like every other manned electric multi-rotor.


25-mile range

20-mile round-trip, you mean. Because, no-way are you parking it at the 7-11 for 8 hours to charge -- you need to get it back home to your 240v/100a service for a "reasonable" half-hour charge. (Minus 5 miles for the requisite shit happens allowance.)


32F - 86F temperature range

So, 32F on the low end means there's no margin in the battery capacity. 86F on the top of the range means they can't figure out how to cool the batteries (despite having 8 freebie massive potential radiator fans) This does not instill confidence.


Short battery life + lots of charge cycles + rapid charge/discharge rate + running the batteries super-hot

This is going to be incredibly hard on the batteries. When your R/C quadcopter's battery pack goes to crap, you're out maybe $100. A pack replacement on this mistake is going to be on the order of $10k. And if they can't figure out cooling, how much do you trust that they've got fire-safety figured out for when one of the hard-abused cells decides to give out?


"Price of an SUV"

So... I'm guessing $80k+ (Range Rover territory) here? Same price every implementation of this bad idea ends up. For a fraction of the price, you could get into a powered paraglider or a proper ultralight, which are good for hours of flight on a tank of gas, and can actually get further away from their point of origin than line of sight. Also, they've got the cred of being legit hobbies, whereas the R/C-less multirotor will never be anything other than a toy.



In summation; multirotors: sweet R/C toys; cool camera platforms; interesting utility drones; absolutely garbage human conveyances.


yeah you can get a heli ultralight for much less with more range and speed and payload
see http://mosquito-helicopter.info/Mosquito_Model_XET.html

60k ready to fly less if you built it your self

Useful load including fuel 362 lb

flight time ~2hours
max speed 100mph cruise 85mph

so your getting around lets say 80 mile range with ~100lbs of fuel leaving 250lbs+ of payload
 

Rahh

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Pipe dream and also I have to wonder how loud it is? Personal Heli's as already mentioned already offer a much better experience for less so why this thing?
 

AK0tA

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Exciting times I say, I want to outfit mine like maybe an Nieuport 28 or Sopwith Camel and do some dogfighting. At any rate this may be viable for my childrens children but I see potential in the medivac industry.
 

Jagger100

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Add a couple of mini-guns you have the border control version of the A10.
 

TwiceOver

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This really is one tech that I'm just barely going to miss in my lifetime. I still think I'll at least see completely driverless cars, right before I die.
 
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25-mile range

20-mile round-trip, you mean. Because, no-way are you parking it at the 7-11 for 8 hours to charge -- you need to get it back home to your 240v/100a service for a "reasonable" half-hour charge. (Minus 5 miles for the requisite shit happens allowance.)

Problem will be you can't fly an ultralight over congested areas of towns/cities/etc or in controlled airspace without ATC approval. Meaning most of the costumers won't be able to fly it from their house and will have to truck it to an area they can fly. Most non-congested areas won't have the required electrical service.

Its a cool idea but will end up like the private submarines. It will be a luxury item rarely used.

I don't see a rental market due to the liability.
 
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vibe

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hopefully redundant computers on board to prevent you from making fatal moves

wonder if this can even deal with a double-digit breeze

but imagine what's going to happen when battery and motor power starts to evolve stronger and stronger
 

lcpiper

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Imagine one of these waining around your next trip to a national park or at the beach...

Also, does anyone here have something you'd want to fly to within 12.5 miles that this would even be applicable?


US Mexican border is pretty damned close and sometimes just a little is alot :LOL:
 

Krenum

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I hope its got back up fuel tanks for when the electrics fail.
 

velusip

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...For a fraction of the price, you could get into a powered paraglider or a proper ultralight, which are good for hours of flight on a tank of gas...
They shoot themselves in the foot twice for the convenience of VTOL and simplicity of an electric powertrain.

The efficiency of EM motors is extremely high, but it doesn't matter when your energy store density is extremely low (lithium). Flight requires a very high power to weight ratio, so that's barrel one to left foot. Furthermore, multirotor flight is simply horribly inefficient regardless of powerplant efficiencies. Leveraging a fixed wing against the atmosphere will always beat multirotor in efficiency. So that's barrel two to right foot.

The alternatives:

* Fixed-wing, EM-solution would put range somewhere inbetween the multirotor and IC performance. No VTOL.
* Multirotor, IC-solution would match range and give you VTOL, but be horribly expensive and unreliable.

The point is, the fact this can be relatively easily built and still be be effective/safe comes in part due to the absolute simplicity and cost effectiveness of the EM-solution, even though it's still just a rather silly toy in the end.
 

rudy

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yeah you can get a heli ultralight for much less with more range and speed and payload
see http://mosquito-helicopter.info/Mosquito_Model_XET.html

60k ready to fly less if you built it your self

Useful load including fuel 362 lb

flight time ~2hours
max speed 100mph cruise 85mph

so your getting around lets say 80 mile range with ~100lbs of fuel leaving 250lbs+ of payload
These products are made by rich silicon valley CEOs because they want to have an alternative to their daily helicopter commute.
 

Tekara

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All these revolutionary designs keep placing the blades at human height and leaving them fully exposed. Only a matter of time until I read a story about one of these things maiming the inventor during an "unforeseen event."
 
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