The e-volo 'Multicopter' makes its maiden unmanned voyage

Story highlights

The German-made "Multicopter" has made its first manned flight

It is powered by 16 small rotor blades, fueled by lithium batteries

Creators say finished model could be used as an air taxi

CNN —  

It may lack the grace of an airship, or the class of Concorde, but the “Multicopter” has a style all of its own.

This somewhat awkward looking vehicle is the work of German company e-volo and a prototype has just made its first manned flight, after completing unmanned trials.

With e-volo’s Thomas Senkel strapped into the center of its four-limbed frame, it flew for one minute and 30 seconds over a field in Southern Germany, powered by 16 small rotor blades.

E-volo says its creation is powered entirely by lithium batteries and can carry a load of around 80kg – about as much as it weighs.

Watch “Multicopter’s” first manned flight.

While the maiden flight may not have lasted long or covered much distance, it was enough to convince its designers that it has the potential to develop further. “It could go longer,” said e-volo’s Alexander Zosel. “But for safety we decided before the take off to fly one minutes 30 seconds.”

“This was a proof of concept, not really safe to fly,” he added. “We work on a prototype that we will fly in summer 2012 very safely.”

The pilot steers the Multicopter using a joystick and, despite looking as though it might be grounded by a strong gust of wind, it is very easy to control, according to Zosel.

Although there’s plenty of development work left to do, e-volo believes the vehicle could one day be have a variety of uses, including an air taxi. And they say its ability to hover in one place means it has the potential to be used for search and rescue missions.

“There are many possible applications,” said Zosel. “We see it becoming a widespread form of personal transport.”