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Those Crazy Germans Invent Personal Helicopter, With Exercise Ball For Landing Gear [Video]

A group in Karlsruhe conducts the first manned flight of its personal multicopter.

Those Crazy Germans Invent Personal Helicopter, With Exercise Ball For Landing Gear [Video]
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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.

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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.

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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