An Ohio-based technology company has set a date for the maiden voyage of its newly designed, remotely-piloted drone taxi.
Workhorse, which focuses on providing sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the commercial electric transportation sector, has announced it will conduct the first flight of its SureFly personal hybrid octocopter on January 8 in Las Vegas.
SureFly, the world’s first personal electric hybrid octocopter, is designed to carry up to two passengers and was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June.
The test prior to the start of the 2018 CES, which will be manned, is dependent on several factors, including weather, regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and local municipalities.
“After productive conversations with the Federal Aviation Administration, we’re excited to be on a path forward to experimental status for the SureFly,” said Stephen Burns, CEO of Workhorse.
“The response to SureFly’s public displays has been enthusiastic, and while we have much work ahead of us in our march toward certification, this first test flight represents a significant milestone for the project.”
SureFly, Workhorse’s reimagined helicopter, includes four propeller arms, two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each arm, a backup lithium battery pack to drive the electric motors in the event of engine failure. In addition to the redundant design, a ballistic parachute that safely brings down the craft will be included in the final design.
The aircraft is piloted by joystick in a similar fashion to flying a drone and is expected to be capable of carrying pilot and passenger or cargo up to 70 miles.
Early models will be pilot-operated. Future models will be capable of autonomous flight, with payloads of up to 400 pounds.
Anticipated markets for the SureFly are precision agriculture, emergency responders, city commuters and military.
Workhorse is currently striving toward full certification of the vehicle in late 2019 and expects the SureFly model to sell for $200,000 (£150,000).