Kitty Hawk Flyer - electric powered quad-copter electric motorcycle thingymajob
By: +David Herron; Date: April 24, 2017
Electric drive trains give vehicle designers the freedom to think up what would have been wackadoodle ideas just a few years ago. Case in point are variants on the Quadcopter, meaning a vehicle with multiple downward facing propellers. A quadcopter has four downward facing propellers, and I've seen designs with a dozen or more propellers. The Kitty Hawk Flyer appears to have eight propellers, making it an Octocopter? The initial reporting on this calls it a 'flying car', but it's clearly not a car, and it's clearly meant for use in limited scenarios. The Kitty Hawk Flyer is going on sale later in 2017, so this isn't an early prototype like so many of the n-Copter's for humans, but is close to production. Going by the video it looks like a flying electric motorcycle that would be fun. One wonders how much of a control system is on-board or whether the pilot steers merely by leaning. Going by the website, it's going to be ultra-expensive. Going by the legal and technical limitations of this incarnation, the Kitty Hawk Flyer will see its primary use as a playtoy at peoples' lake house. Who knows whether legal and technical limitations can be transcended to allow this type of vehicle to be used for regular travel around cities?
The website, https://kittyhawk.aero/, is offering "Membership" for "just" $100. The membership fee buys you a "three-year membership to a passionate community of like-minded people" (is that of any value? who knows?), but more importantly priority placement in the waiting list to purchase a Flyer, and a $2000 discount off the list price.
Hurm -- a $2000 discount sounds like at least a $10,000 list price? Maybe? Maybe more?
The production vehicle will have a different design from the prototype unit shown in this video. By its legal category, it is prevented from flying in congested areas such as cities, and by its design it can only fly over water. Specifically, fresh water.
Since the Kitty Hawk Flyer is an "ultralight aircraft" it falls within certain FAA rules. The FAA's purpose is to manage the airspace so that all can fly safely. This vehicle falls within the FAR 103 Ultralight Category, and does not require a pilots license.
The requirement for a pilots license would be a major hurdle for most of our flying car dreams. How many of us have the wherewithall and time required to become a licensed Pilot just to have a flying car? Ain't nobody got time for that!
Since the Kitty Hawk Flyer doesn't, according to the manufacturer, require a pilots license it's immediately available to all.
That's where I questioned whether the Kitty Hawk Flyer has an automated control system, or not. It appears an n-copter pilot could steer the vehicle by leaning, but that would risk the pilot leaning too far, the vehicle flipping over, and the vehicle flying straight into the ground, killing the occupant. No commercial company is going to warranty such a vehicle. Therefore, it's very likely the Kitty Hawk Flyer has an automated control system to prevent the pilot from doing stupid things like leaning too far. It should keep the vehicle within a safe operational envelope.
The screen capture from the video shows some kind of tablet computer display. While it's blank in this video, it could possibly offer touch control during flight.
This gives a sense of the drive train. An n-Copter can change speed and direction by varying the power going to these motors. Power would be varied among the motors to tilt during flight, causing direction changes etc.
The handlebars look like they have buttons letting the pilot control something, and could also have twist grips to control speed.
It looks like the pilot can also maneuver by flexing his/her lower body, much as a motorcyclist might do.
Introducing the Kitty Hawk Flyer
Source: YouTubeThe Kitty Hawk Flyer is a new, all-electric aircraft. It is safe, tested and legal to operate in the United States in uncongested areas under the Ultralight ...
Kitty Hawk Flyer Prototype — Test Flight by Cimeron Morrissey
Source: YouTubeI recently got offered the chance of a lifetime: to become one of the test pilots of a prototype of a top-secret new aircraft called the Kitty Hawk Flyer. He...