Australian Company Makes Progress With "Compact Aerial Vehicles"

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Entecho, based in Perth, Australia, is working to develop two aircraft that it calls Compact Aerial Vehicles. The two types of CAV, the Hoverpod and the Mupod, offer many advantages over conventional aircraft such as airplanes and helicopters, according to the company Web site. The smaller one, the remotely operated Mupod, is only about two feet across and weighs 11 pounds, and made its first flight last year. It is powered by a quiet electric motor and has drawn serious interest from defense contractors. The Hoverpod version would be big enough to carry up to three people and cruise at 75 mph, and is expected to fly for the first time sometime this year. Entecho's site says the design overcomes the key challenge of generating lift within a small vehicle envelope by employing a novel rotor fan and a unique combination of lifting surfaces.

The vehicles can be intuitively operated with simple joystick controls, the company says. The Mupod has been tested in crowded urban airspace where it has shown that it can hover, perch on buildings, and bump into obstacles and recover. The company says it will market the products for recreation, commercial, and defense purposes.

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