LIFT Aircraft Inc.
Austin, Texas, USA
Austin, Texas-based LIFT Aircraft started their project in Oct. 2017 in Budapest, revealed itself on Dec. 11, 2018 to the public through social media and news articles, and made its first public appearance at the SXSW (South By Southwest) 2019 Conference and Festivals held in March in Austin, Texas, USA. The LIFT HEXA (originally the "Hexa") is an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) single-passenger wingless multicopter ultralight aimed primarily at tourism and short distance travel. The HEXA aircraft was designed by Robert Kovacs, who is based in Hungary.
LIFT was founded by Matt Chasen, a serial entrepreneur, investor and adventure sports enthusiast. While getting his MBA at the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, Chasen founded uShip — the first and largest online marketplace for shipping which today has over $200 M in annual gross sales.
The HEXA Fire concept design is an autonomous or remote controlled fire fighting mulitcopter (there is no room for a pilot) which holds it own water and can fly where the fire needs immediate attention from the air. The aircraft has a fire hose nozzle which can spray water or foam to an exact location in the fire. The aircraft will be useful where fire trucks can't reach (such as a car that is over a cliff or in an inaccessable area) or in any building with mulitiple floors, such as a high-rise building.
The multicopter has 18 independently controlled propellers and 18 electric motors mounted on a motor strut assembly resembling a web of six inward-pointing sectors with twelve outer and six inner electrically-powered propellers. This allows the aircraft to be controlled in any direction by varying the individual motor speed for each propeller.
Each motor has an underslung battery which the company says makes for quick battery changeouts between flights. This battery placement also puts the risk of fire away from the passenger(s) and under the propeller airflow. Having the batteries next to the electric motors also saves extra cabling weight. The HEXA’s all-carbon fiber airframe is supported by six perimeter floats allowing the aircraft to make both land and water landings.
The aircraft uses a differential global positioning system (GPS) for navigation. It provides autonomous flight capabilities with the help of an autopilot computer that receives manual inputs from a single three-axis joystick. The eVTOL incorporates networking capabilities to achieve geo-sphere collision avoidance. Its collision avoidance capabilities are further strengthened by a ground-based radar. Take-offs and landings can be automated with precision and the vehicle can be switched to "return to home" mode when the battery is low.
The advantage of the HEXA fire fighter multicopter is it has a smaller diameter than a helicopter and can fly into areas that are not accessible by helicopter. As the HEXA Fire is small enough to be transported by truck, the multicopter can be launched almost immediately when the fire fighters arrive at the scene of the fire. In addition, having a remote controlled fire fighting helicopter will keep fire fighters (and helicopter pilots) safe in case their is an accident with the multicopter or the multicopter gets too close to the fire and stops working.
HEXA Fire multicopters could be parked in strategic areas in an urban area ready to fly at a moments notice to a fire. In fact, the HEXA Fire multicopters are stationed in many places in a city, they could be remotely flown to a fire and be the first fire fighting aircraft on the scene putting out flames.
As of May 2022, the company has not stated when a prototype type might be made and has not released any specifications for this aircraft, such as payload weight and the range of the aircraft.
For detailed information on LIFT Aircraft's HEXA modular commercial passenger multicopter, please see the HEXA Electric VTOL News web page here.
- Aircraft type: Fire fighter eVTOL multicopter aircraft
- Piloting: Remote or autonomous
- Capacity: No passengers, holds water or foam
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Maximum flying time: Unknown
- Empty weight: Unknown
- Payload weight: Unknown
- Propellers: 18 propellers
- Electric Motors: 18 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Landing gear: 6 fixed landing pods
- Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. Has an autonomous ballistic parachute in case of a multiple rotor failure.
- LIFT Aircraft website
- LIFT Aircraft Facebook
- LIFT Aircraft Twitter
- LIFT Aircraft Instagram
- LIFT Aircraft LinkedIn
- Video: LIFT Aircraft, LIFT Aircraft, Dec. 10, 2018
- Article: Lift Aircraft’s Hexa may be your first multirotor drone ride, TechCrunch, Dec. 11, 2018
- LIFT Aircraft Press Release, Dec. 11, 2018
- Article: Lift unveils an ultralight aircraft made for fun flights, with Seattle on its radar screen, GeekWire, Dec. 11, 2018
- Article: LIFT Aircraft unveils new eVTOL aircraft, Aerospace Technology, Dec. 13, 2018
- Article: Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019, Digital Trends, Dec. 14, 2018
- Video: LIFT Aircraft Hexa Public Unveiling SXSW 2019, LIFT Aircraft, Mar. 21, 2019
- Video: CNBC: "WHAT"S HOT AT SXSW 2019", LIFT Aircraft, Mar. 28, 2019
- Video: CNBC: LIFT at SXSW, LIFT Aircraft, Mar. 28, 2019
- Article: LIFT’s Hexa Lifts Off, Vertiflite, Mar/Apr 2019
- Article: Maform wins award for eVTOL aircraft design, Budapest Business Journal, May 24, 2019
- Article: Lift Aircraft reports progress on eVTOL testing, with Austin launch (and Seattle stopover) in mind, GeekWire, Sept. 12, 2019
- Article: Lift Aircraft says 13,000 people have signed up for drone rides; flights begin in beta mode in Texas, Geek Wire, Dec. 11, 2019
- Article: Wrapping Up 2020 - A message from LIFT CEO, Matt Chasen, LIFT Aircraft, Dec. 29, 2020
- Article: LIFT Hexa Update, Electric VTOL News, Jan. 7, 2020
- Article: LIFT Aircraft’s HEXA Gets a Boost, Electric VTOL News, Aug. 24, 2020
- Article: This company is selling $500,000 flying vehicles that look like giant drones and can be flown without a pilot's license, Business Inside, Sept. 27, 2020
- Article: LIFT Aircraft boss: Progress at the Pentagon from the view of a startup, Defense News, Dec. 6, 2021
- Article: LIFT Aircraft continues eVTOL flight tests with US Air Force, eVTOL Magazine, Apr. 8, 2022
- Article: LIFT Aircraft advances to Phase 3 contract with US Air Force, GPS World, Apr. 11, 2022
- Article: Pursuing alternative paths to bringing eVTOL aircraft to market, eVTOL Magazine, May 20, 2022