An hour preparation to start flying

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Three in one: car, helicopter and drone! Lift Aircraft introduced the HEXA project a few years ago, and recently the first serial model was tested by the US Air Force. The unusual hybrid has 18 rotors and can perform vertical takeoff and landing.

Although some call the new development a flying car, it is a stretch to classify it as a ground wheeled vehicle. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has qualified it as an ultralight aircraft, which means it does not require a pilot’s license to fly it. Anyone who has reached the age of 18, has a weight of up to 113 kg, a height of up to 2 meters and has completed an hour’s training course, can get behind the wheel. This is because takeoff and landing is carried out with a simple push of a button, and controllers and sensors take over all control functions.

The pilot controls the direction of flight with a joystick. By the way, precisely because of the need for strict control of the center of gravity by the on-board computer, the “driver” seat is rigidly fixed in one specific position. If for some reason the pilot loses control, the multicopter is fixed at a stable altitude or smoothly lowers to the ground thanks to the built-in GPS control.

The stability of the aircraft is supported by an on-board computer – an autopilot with a triple redundancy system. Based on the altitude, wind speed and direction, the computer calculates the flight time and battery life. When the battery charge approaches a certain level, the HEXA will automatically land at a safe designated location.
It has long been known that batteries are the most vulnerable part of drives. HEXA decided not to use a single central battery, because it is less reliable, but endowed each of the 18 rotors with its own power source. It takes only 10-15 minutes to recharge the batteries. Also, the manufacturer placed them around the perimeter of the bracket and at an equidistant distance from the pilot, and cooling occurs naturally in a screw flow, without requiring additional water systems.

The device is made of lightweight carbon fiber, which is several times lighter than steel, due to which it has good aerodynamic characteristics. Indeed, the HEXA weighs only 200 kilograms and is capable of speeds up to 101 km/h.

Another interesting fact is that HEXA is a drone that can be controlled by an operator from a distance. Therefore, it can be used to deliver goods, for example, on board a yacht, or quickly evacuate a person in an emergency situation. He will be able to land on the touch-and-go helipad, since the span of his “propellers” is about 2 meters in diameter. In general, the device is very compact: its length is 1.69 meters, and its width and height do not exceed 1.5 meters.Also, the drone can be a good helper for coastal ship maintenance due to its ability to fly at low altitudes. True, so far only with a 15-minute duration – this is how the battery charge is calculated.

“Moving across the sky is much easier! No roads, no traffic lights and less obstacles,”said Jeff Bezos after testing HEXA back in 2018. After that, a waiting list of 15,000 people lined up behind the “flying car” worth $ 500,000! No point to say, mobility and independence are becoming an integral part of modern society and, most likely, such aircraft will become our reality in the near future.

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