Workhorse Group’s hybrid electric copter spin-off takes off
It’s been another busy week for electric pioneer Workhorse Group. Following news of FedEx’s ongoing trials of a fuel cell-powered the May 3 saw the company confirm that its hybrid VTOL aircraft, the SureFly, had completed its first test flight at an airfield in Cincinnati.
Having cancelled its first launch attempt at CES earlier this year owing to bad weather, the achievement is an important step on the road to commercial production – and also in proving the viability of the technology to observers and investors.
First unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June last year, the craft is claimed to be the world’s first electric hybrid helicopter.
Built with a drone-like octocopter design, the aircraft is capable of carrying two people and 400lbs (180 kg) of payload around 70 miles. It’s held aloft by four propeller arms, featuring two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each arm.
Its main power plant is a gasoline generator, which supplies electricity to the eight motors. Should this fail, there are also two 7.5kWh li-ion battery packs with enough capacity for around five minutes of flying – enough, Workhorse says, to get you to safety. Failing that, there’s also a ballistic parachute.
Although the test flight is in reality simply hovering a few feet above the ground, Workhorse will increase its testing programme in the coming months.
You can see the flight in the video below: