It’s almost 2012. Shouldn’t we be piloting hovercrafts already? Of course we should. And thanks to a new personal multicopter, we might be one step closer to realizing that futuristic fantasy.
Developed by a group at Technology Region Karlsruhe, in Germany, the E-volo is a one-man flying machine with an elaborate steering system, 16 propellers, and a quiet, eco-friendly electric motor. Its lightweight structure can support up to 176 pounds, and last month, it took its first manned flight of a minute and a half (see the video, complete with Knight Rider soundtrack, for ocular proof).
The team describes their invention as a Segway for the air, in that it balances automatically and can remain still while in flight. And according to the group’s website, “the aircraft can be landed safely even with a malfunction of up to four engines.” Unfortunately, that only allays one of our misgivings about jumping onto a jerry-rigged exercise ball held aloft by a bunch of swirling blades. Despite the developers’ stated goal of making such flying affordable to everyone, it may be too soon to invest in a hovercraft dealership.