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Volocopter e-volo uVC400 cargo (defunct)

 

e-volo uVC400 cargo
Volocopter GmbH
Bruschal, Germany
www.volocopter.com

Volocopter GmbH was founded in 2011 in Karlsruhe, Germany by Alexander Zosel and Stephen Wolf with the intent of making an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) multicopter aircraft for fast and efficient urban travel. The company was known as “e-volo GmbH” until July 2017 and its name is now Volocopter GmbH. Volocopter announced in February 2020 that it had raised a total of €122 million (approx. $145M USD) since inception. 

In 2015, Volocopter received the “Climate Champion COP21” award at the Paris Climate Conference (held 30 November - 11 December 2015) in Paris, France, for the Volocopter. Also in 2015, the company stated the Volocopter is being designed to be flown with the option of being piloted drone, remotely, or autonomously, for passenger aircraft. For cargo aircraft, the Volocopters are being designed to be flown remotely or autonomously. The Volocopter is simple, safe and green. 

Some of the benefits of Volocopter's aircraft:

  • Autonomous flying (future)
  • Safe to fly. Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP). 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.
  • Very efficient
  • Simple and reliable
  • Less failures than a petroleum powered aircraft 
  • Less maintenance costs
  • Lower operational costs
  • Affordable and almost maintenance-free
  • Clean Aviation: No pollution, all electric
  • Much quieter than a helicopter

Almost all of the above benefits are due to using many less parts and many less moving parts, which increases reliability, provides no single point of failure and increases the efficiency of the aircraft. Then add batteries and electric motors, this increases the efficiency of the aircraft, the power is from battery direct to the electric motor. Electric motors are also very simple when compared to those that are non-electric: there is only one moving part in an electric motor. Small propellers and electric motors are also very light.

In contrast, a petroleum powered helicopter, you have a fuel tank, a line from the fuel tank with a fuel filter and fuel pump to the engine, many moving parts in a heavy engine, power is then sent to a heavy transmission which has many moving parts, then power is transferred to a heavy and complicated rotorhub which then transfers this power to the heavy rotorblades. Not to mention transferring power through a shaft to the rear of the helicopter through its tail to the tailrotor, all of these things components have more moving parts.

The purpose of what was then known as e-volo, was to respond to the growing urbanization of world cities and respond in kind with technological advances in connectivity, sensors, electrics/battery and drone development to help take pressure off the already crowded inner city roads by offering an alternative aerial option. And all of the early e-volo's, now Volocopter, concepts and prototypes were to have the option to be either all electric or hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft (according to a Sept. 29, 2016 presentation by e-volo GmbH at a NASA ODM Workshop in Hartford, Connecticut, USA). Fast forward several years from 2016 to now and Volocopter is only making all-electric or eVTOL aircraft. 

The company's early plans also included having six Volocopter models; three passenger models and three cargo-only models. The line-up for passenger aircraft includes the VC100 version for one person, the VC200 for two people and the VC400 as a four-seater. The uVC100 cargo drone was based on the VC100 airframe, the uVC200 cargo drone was based on the VC200 airframe and the heavy-load drone, the uVC400, was based on the VC400 airframe. As of 2020, Volocopter has one eVTOL cargo or uncrewed drone called the Volodrone

All the Volocopter's designs were to have identical components with identical safety standards, each aircraft having 18 propellers and 18 electric motors. Several years ago (from 2020), Volocopter had estimated the purchase price for their passenger eVTOL aircraft to cost around €300,000 Euros.

The uVC400 cargo drone concept aircraft was based on the VC400 eVTOL passenger model. The maximum payload of the aircraft was estimated at 275 kg (606 lbs) with a 10.8 meter (over 35 feet) in diameter propeller frame. The hybrid-electric uVC400 had an estimated two hour flight time. The flight time of the all battery version was not found on any of the articles or PDF presentations which we researched. The e-volo uVC400 cargo drone was considered to be a heavy-load drone. 

The company is in the business to provide emission-free, low-noise, inter-urban piloted or remote transportation and autonomous aerial mobility. 

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL or hybrid-electric VTOL cargo design concept 
  • Piloting: Remote or autonomous
  • Capacity: Cargo only, no passengers
  • Flight time: 2 hours with a hybrid-electric power source
  • Maximum payload: 275 kg (606 lbs)
  • Propellers: 18
  • Electric Motors: 18
  • Propeller frame diameter: 10.8 meter (over 35 feet)
  • Airframe: Based on the e-volo VC400 single passenger eVTOL aircraft
  • Power source: Battery or hybrid-electric power source
  • Landing gear: 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 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. There is also an aircraft parachute. Has automatic altitude control, automatic gentle landing, crosswinds and turbulence is automatically compensated for. Redundancy has been built into the aircraft so if one critical system breaks, there are other same exact systems so the aircraft can continue flying and safely land. 

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