This should be something to see. Workhorse Group Inc., an American technology company developing commercial electric transportation solutions, today announced it will conduct the first manned flight of its SureFly personal hybrid octocopter on January 8 in Las Vegas prior to the start of the 2018 CES. The date is dependent on several factors, including weather, regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and local municipalities.
“After productive conversations with the Federal Aviation Administration, we’re excited to be on a path forward to experimental status for the SureFly,” said Stephen Burns, CEO of Workhorse. “The response to SureFly’s public displays has been enthusiastic, and while we have much work ahead of us in our march toward certification, this first test flight represents a significant milestone for the project.”
The SureFly, a unique electric hybrid octocopter, was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June. It is scheduled to be statically displayed at CES in Las Vegas, January 9-12, 2018. The Workhorse CES display will be located on the Central Plaza at Booth #31, near the main entrance of the show.
SureFly re-invents the helicopter, making it safer, easier to fly and much more affordable than a conventional helicopter. Its redundant design includes four propeller arms, two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each arm, a backup lithium battery pack to drive the electric motors in the event of engine failure. In addition to the redundant design, a ballistic parachute that safely brings down the craft will be included in the final design.
SureFly’s hybrid design leverages Workhorse’s battery pack, management systems and controls utilized in its currently commercialized range-extended battery electric road vehicles. It features a gas combustion engine generating electricity and a parallel battery pack offering a redundant backup power source, eliminating the need for long battery charging periods between flights. Pilots who have seen the SureFly like the easy-to-pilot design, as the aircraft is piloted by joystick in a similar fashion to flying a drone. The SureFly is expected to be capable of carrying pilot and passenger or cargo up to 70 miles. After a quick refill, SureFly is ready for the next hop.
Early models will be pilot-operated. Future models will be capable of autonomous flight, with payloads of up to 400 pounds. Anticipated markets for the SureFly are precision agriculture, emergency responders, city commuters and military. The company is working toward full certification of the vehicle in late 2019. The expected price of the SureFly is approximately $200,000, and Workhorse is currently accepting pre-orders for the aircraft at www.workhorse.com.