Founded by Daniel Gant in March 2016 and located in Poplar, Wisconsin, USA, Ascend Dynamics is in the business of designing and manufacturing novel electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) and hybrid-electric VTOL backpack multicopter aircraft for many types of aerial missions. Gant is a Mechanical Engineer who has dreamed of a free flying experience that push the limits of aerodynamics and performance since he was very young. The company has patent pending status and is currently looking for investors.
As a teenager, Gant started flying radio controlled model aircraft and electric drones which inspired him to design his backpack multicopter personal flying device. Gant saw concept art of a backpack bi-copter which wouldn't work in practice but this was the catalyst to make a working and useful eVTOL or hybrid-electric backpack multicopter.
Gant learned early on that designing and making stable flying aircraft is a difficult task. And he's stated to understand this, there will be lots of failures and failures are okay, as long as you learn from the failures and that learning leads to success.
In July 2020, Gant started making subscale prototype multicopter backpacks and flying them and has continued to do so since then. As of 2022, he has made five main prototypes, the P1, P2, P3, P4, and V1. The P stands for prototype. Several of the P1-P4 prototypes have had one or more versions, such as a P2 having versions starting from P2, to P2.1 and to a final version named P2.11. With his first subscale P1 prototype, was the tethered prototype during flight testing. All other prototypes have made untethered flights. The next prototype to be made is the V2 which will be the prototype used for the production model which will be named the X1. All the prototypes listed below have provided the inventor with extremely valuable flight test data making each new prototype better than the last.
The SkyPak P1 is the first proof-of-concept half-scale back-pack eVTOL multicopter made by Ascend Dynamics. The prototype has six propellers, six electric motors, a flight controller, electronic speed controllers and batteries. The backpack frame is made of wood and attached to the front of the frame is a wood cut-out of a silhouette of a person. The top and bottom propellers were mounted on metal struts and the middle propellers are mounted on wooden struts. The bottom of the frame has metal fixed-skid landing gear. While this prototype never flew untethered, the tethered flight verified that the backpack multicopter concept design could fly in a controlled manner.
The SkyPak P2 is the second proof-of-concept 1/4 scale backpack eVTOL multicopter. The prototype has six propellers, six electric motors, a flight controller, electronic speed controllers and batteries. The frame is made of wood and attached to the front of the frame is a wood cut-out of a silhouette of a person. All struts for the propellers were made of wood. The bottom of the frame has metal fixed-skid landing gear in the shape of an X. This demonstrator used all new components and had much better performance characteristics than the P1 prototype. Changes to the layout of the frame and components gave the prototype better performance. The P2.10 version flew very smoothly and was able to perform many maneuvers including rolls, flips and dives.The first flight of the SkyPak P2.3 was on Nov. 6, 2020 with a takeoff weight of 1.5 lb (657 g).
The SkyPak P3 is the third proof-of-concept 1/4 scale backpack eVTOL multicopter. The P3 prototype is the forerunner of the full-scale V1 prototype. The prototype has 12 propellers, 12 electric motors, a flight controller, electronic speed controllers and batteries. The frame is made of wood and attached to the front of the frame is a wood cut-out of a silhouette of a person. All struts for the propellers were made of wood. The bottom of the frame has metal fixed-skid landing gear in the shape of an X. This prototype was used to fine tune the control system. The first flight of the P3 was on Feb. 11, 2021 with a takeoff weight 2.6 lb (1,190 g). The prototype flew very well and had a high level of stability and control.
The SkyPak P4 is the fourth proof-of-concept 1/4 scale backpack eVTOL multicopter. The prototype has six propellers, six electric motors, a flight controller, electronic speed controllers and batteries. The frame and all propeller arms were 3D printed. Several versions of P4 were made with one version having a wood cut-out of a silhouette of a person attached to the frame.
The last version, P4.2, has an orange 3D printed mannequin, Mitchell, in the shape of the Marvel Comics' superhero Iron Man, attached to the front of the backpack frame. The bottom of the frame has metal fixed-skid landing gear in the shape of an X. This prototype was a visual mock-up of the V1 prototype. The P4.0 prototype first flight was performed on June 30, 2021, with a take off weight of 1.5 lb (675 g). Flight tests showed a good level of stability and control of the P4.2 demonstrator.
The SkyPak X1 is a one person hybrid-electric VTOL multicopter backpack, with an autonomous flight option, for advanced air mobility (AAM). The SkyPak X1 is the future production model for Ascend Dynamics; however, the name of the aircraft might change before serial production occurs. The X1 has not been built as of May 2022 but if the company finds financial backers, the company could have the production model built, tested and flying by 2025.
Safety is the number one factor for the company and the company plans to have no single points of failure and to include multiple safety features to keep the pilot safe. For example, the SkyPak X1 multicopter will have 12 ducted propellers (6 counter-rotating pairs) with guards on the top and bottom of each duct to ensure safety to the pilot, those around the aircraft, and to protect the aircraft from stationary and flying objects. The multicopter will also have 12 electric motors (redundancy), a flight controller, electronic speed controllers, lithium batteries, redundant systems and a ballistic parachute.
As the power consumption is great for multicopter aircraft, the company has decided on a hybrid-electric power system until battery density has increased to a point where a battery-only power source can provide long enough flight time for aerial missions. The planned hybrid-electric system will be a light-weight internal combustion engine to create electricity for the propellers and to recharge the on-board batteries.
The flight time for the SkyPack X1 is expected to be in the 30 minute range. The fuselage is planned to be made of carbon fiber composite material, keeping the weight of the aircraft low while at the same time providing a very strong and long lasting superstructure for the entire aircraft. The expected empty weight of the aircraft will be <100 lb (<45 kg) with a maximum payload of 300 lb (136 kg). The flight time is expected to be in the 30 minute range.
The SkyPak is technically an ultralight and therefore requires no license to fly, allowing many people to have a free-flight experience who would normally not have this experience. There is a great deal of avionics and controllers which stabilize the SkyPak and because of this, pilots will only need limited special training to fly using the backpack. The aircraft can be flown in small spaces or in close proximity to objects, so it will be a very practical one person multicopter.
The company foresees the SkyPak to be used in many aerial applications where one person is needed with precision VTOL flight. One area that would be very useful would be during inspections or maintenance in hard to reach places. For example, bridge inspections, communication tower maintenance, powerline transmission maintenance and wind turbine maintenance. The company also predicts the SkyPak will be used for tourism, personal use, air racing, Search and Rescue (SAR), law enforcement, firefighting, military and more. The company estimates that SkyPak will sell in the range of $120,000.00 to $180,000.00 USD.
Aircraft type: eVTOL full-scale eVTOL production model backpack multicopter
Piloting/Capacity: 1 pilot (with autonomous flight mode option)
Cruise speed: Unknown
Flight time: 30+ minutes
Empty weight: <100 lb (<45 kg)
Maximum payload: 300 lb (136 kg)
Propellers: 12 ducted propellers with guards (6 counter-rotating pairs)
Electric Motors: 12 electric motors
Total power: 100+kw (135hp)
Power source: Hybrid-electric power source with lithium polymer batteries
Total power: 100+kw (135hp)
Fuselage: Carbon Fiber composite
Landing gear: Unknown
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies in the sub-systems of the aircraft. The propellers will be ducted with guards on the top and bottom of each ducted propeller. The backpack multicopter will have a ballistic parachute in case of an extreme emergency.
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