In July 2019, Marcelo Lavrador, based in Florida, USA, started developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) for his own personal use. Lavrador was motivated to invent his eVTOL aircraft due to the recent developments and the maturing of passenger drone technology. Lavrador has also by inspired by past aviator pioneers and especially those pioneers who continued to invent aircraft despite having little or no achievements. With this aviation pioneering attitude, Lavrador at the beginning of his endeavor to make an eVTOL aircraft, had the goal to be satisfied with his work whether he succeeds or not.
Lavrador originally was not interested in making any type of production aircraft. He originally called his eVTOL work, the Human Drone Project (HDP). After Levrador started on his personal project, he eventually decided to transition from his eVTOL hobby to a business. Once this decision was made, he and a small group of inventors began the process to develop an eVTOL passenger aircraft to manufacture and sell the aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). He formed Cognitive Bird LLC in May 2020 and is currently looking for investors.
The first prototype by Lavrador was a subscale multicopter drone with the same proportions as the future passenger eVTOL multicopter aircraft he had designed. This small drone was used to find out what material, propellers, electric motors, controllers and other necessary equipment was available on the market. After a month of 10 different virtual models, the inventor settled on a final design for the subscale model.
Flight tests in 2019 and 2020 were made by remote control and dead weight was added inside each prototype that was equal to a human passenger. As the flight testing continued, the company continues to perfect the flight characteristics of the aircraft, is developing innovative interfaces and improving its fail-safe technology.
Assembly of the third prototype took place on March 3, 2021. On March 13, 2021, the first outdoor unthethered hover test took place. Then on June 11, 2021, the first crewed flight of the open-framed third prototype took place. His first three full-scale flying prototypes are named HDP01, HDP02 and HDP03.
The HDP02 technology demonstrator is a remote controlled eVTOL aircraft that does not carry any test pilot (only dead weight simulating a pilot) with eight propellers, eight electric motors and uses only battery packs for its power source. The HDP02 flew until the end of January 2021 which provided valuable data to the team. The flight time for the technology demonstrator is approximately 15 minutes.
This prototype is the second in a line of the company's full-scale working prototypes. The HDP02 is an open framed aircraft made out of light weight aluminium (6061-T6) with the VTOL propellers in the four corners of the aircraft. A seat is in the middle of the aircraft where dead weight is placed during test flights and the demonstrator has fixed skid type landing gear.
The inventor is also developing some eVTOL subsystems such as a web-based flight panel, a ground station, joystick flight control and a visual computing system for future autonomous flying. Safety features for this prototype include distributed electric propulsion (DEP) and redundancy in its sub-systems.
The company goals are to make eVTOL passenger aircraft that is low cost, safe, reliable and to overcome and improve upon all obstacles they face. Lavrador foresees his aircraft being used for personal air travel, on-demand air taxi service, recreation use, emergency rescues, aerial medevac service and more.
Capacity: No passengers, only dead weight simulating a person's weight
Cruise speed: Unknown
Flight Time: ~15 minutes
Propellers: 8 propellers
Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
Power source: Battery packs
Fuselage: Open-framed aluminium 6061-T6 with TIG welding
Cockpit: Open cockpit
Landing gear: Fixed-skid type landing gear
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 redundancies built into the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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