SureFly Passenger Drone To Launch

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Workhorse Group, whose concept for a “manned drone” attracted lots of attention last summer at EAA AirVenture, announced this week the SureFly aircraft will fly for the first time on Jan. 8, at the CES consumer technology show in Las Vegas. SureFly says its two-seat vehicle will be safer, easier to fly and more affordable than a conventional helicopter. It’s driven by eight contra-rotating propellers fixed to four propeller arms. It can carry a payload of 400 pounds up to 70 miles at about 75 MPH, the company said. Early models will be pilot-operated, but future models will be capable of autonomous flight. The company is working toward full certification of the vehicle by late 2019.

The design leverages the battery packs developed by Workhorse for its electric road vehicles, the company says. A gas combustion engine generates electricity, and a parallel battery pack provides a redundant backup power source, eliminating the need for long charging periods between flights, the company says. It’s controlled by a single joystick. Workhorse Group also said this week it is spinning off its aviation division, which includes the SureFly aircraft, into a separate publicly traded company named SureFly Inc. “SureFly has been one of the most exciting products we've ever developed,” said company CEO Steve Burns. “We believe the decision to spin off SureFly into a separate entity will better facilitate the long-term growth of both companies.”

EHang also recently flew a public demo if its one-seat drone, flown by a remote operator. Click here for the video.

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