Have you ever considered aviation history to be a thing of the past? Are the Wright Brothers the only names you know in aviation?
If so, you are not alone. A large chunk of the population does not feel the need to be updated on new innovations in flight unless it affects their cost of flying from Point A to Point B. But what if we could use helicopters like taxis?
That is exactly the idea driving some makers of electric and solar powered helicopters. These projects are getting off the ground these days, so read on to make sure you are informed about what could become the Uber of the sky.
Full Size Electric Helicopter
In 2016, the first electric helicopter manned by humans took flight. From Los Alamitos Army Airfield, this flight was an historic event to be sure.
To complete this flight, the engineers from Tier 1 Engineering used a Robinson R44 helicopter they modified. This model is fitted with two electric motors weighing 1100 pounds, though removing the old fuel engines offsets that weight addition.
During this flight, the electric helicopter was able to stay in flight for twenty minutes with 600 pounds worth of cargo. Tier 1 Engineering hopes to modify the prototype to allow 150 minutes of flight (plus an extra 30 minutes for emergencies).
Implications of Fully Functioning Electric Helicopters
The first electric helicopter of full size took flight, and the creators did not shy away from the future possibilities presented by this moment.
The primary takeaway from this successful flight is that other types of electric flight are 100% possible. With more tinkering, we could be looking at a more environmentally friendly way of flying across countries – or even the whole world someday.
With dedication, hard work, and innovation, someday all of us may be able to take helicopter flights to the destination of our choice. At the current moment, manufacturers goals are to increase flight to allow for two and a half hours of flight. With more experimenting, it could be possible to fly further and longer than that.
The primary goal of flight for electric helicopters is to help out hospitals. Someday, these helicopters will hopefully be able to transport organs from hospital to hospital with greater speed and less energy consumption.
This honorable hope is only a starting place though. Some innovators in the aviation field have high hopes that organ delivery will be made easier – and that transportation for individuals becomes easier.
Solar Powered Helicopter
At the University of Maryland, a group of students is undertaking an even more groundbreaking feat. They hope to create a helicopter that can be powered on solar energy – and they are finding some initial success in their endeavors. Known as the Solar Gamera, this helicopter is powered by four banks of solar panels.
Also in 2016, this group took their solar powered helicopter to new heights. They finally got off the ground in a test flight that lasted nine seconds, taking one passenger a foot into the air. Are you thinking that does not sound very impressive?
Well, neither did the Wright brothers’ first flight, which only lasted twelve seconds. The student group is confident that with more study, they can adjust the helicopter’s controls to help the craft stay in flight longer.
While this fight is revolutionary in terms of green aviation, it is also making history in rotary blade aviation. The University of Maryland previously set a record for the longest flight of human-powered helicopter, and now they are determined to break records in solar power.
Beyond simply breaking records, it is possible that this solar powered craft could also transport organs someday in the future. Or – if we really dare to dream – we could end up having an airway of helicopter taxis.
That is the hope of some who are investing in this new tech. In developing low fuel options for air travel, perhaps the devices built by students can lead to low cost options for consumers. If that becomes the case, all of our current transportation options will be transformed. This is certainly an exciting time to be alive and paying attention to the sky.
Try to stay updated on developments in the solar powered helicopter saga. You never know – you may get to take a helicopter home from work.
Renewable Energy Helicopters: The Future of Travel?
For those of us who thought maybe air travel innovation was a thing of the past, we are happily wrong. Clearly, in the next few decades, there will be strides made that many of us had never dreamed of before.
Make sure that you stay tuned for more updates on the ways renewable energy can make air travel cheaper and more accessible for everybody.