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e-Volo 18-Rotor Volocopter

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This is the battery-powered VC200 “volocopter,” a state-of-the-art helicopter prototype by engineers at German start-up e-volo. From Smithsonian Mag

In the coming year, engineers will continue working on the prototype, which the company boasts will be lighter, safer, quieter and greener than any other helicopter in the world.

That’s because a traditional helicopter uses one rotor to provide lift and a tail rotor to prevent the aircraft from spinning in circles. It maneuvers by changing the pitch of the two rotors. The volocopter has 18 small rotors mounted in a configuration that provides lift without causing the vehicle to spin. It navigates by changing the speed of individual rotors.

e-volo also invented this previously-featured, e-powered multicopter. Related watching: more helicopters, including human-powered ones.

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