Attendees of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show will have an opportunity to witness a Cincinnati-based technology developers newest electric transport vehicle in action. Workhorse Group Inc. will demo its SureFly personal hybrid octocopter before the start of the January event.
The SureFly is a two-person unit designed to provide commuting services to passengers or other commercial operation flights for various service industries including agriculture. The “re-invention of the helicopter,” includes four propeller arms, two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each arm and a backup lithium battery pack in the event of engine failure. A ballistic parachute is also included on the unit. Piloted by a joystick, the SureFly is capable of carrying a pilot and passenger up to 70 miles. The entire unit is built from carbon fiber and is powered by a gasoline engine that generates the electricity to power the propellers. Its top speed is 70 mph and on a single tank of gasoline, it can fly for roughly one hour. The main markets for the SureFly, as described by Workhorse, are those in the precision ag, emergency response, commuter transport and military sectors.
Initially, the SureFly will be flown under manned scenarios, but eventually, Workhorse envisions the octocopter will be flown unmanned and autonomously. Eventually, the system will be able to move with payloads of up to 400 pounds. Full certification of the vehicle could be completed by the end of 2019, the company believes, and the Ohio company is already taking pre-orders for the vehicle that will cost just under $200,000.
“After productive conversations with the Federal Aviation Administration, we’re excited to be on a path forward to experimental status for the SureFly,” said Stephen Burns, CEO of Workhorse. “The response to SureFly’s public displays has been enthusiastic, and while we have much work ahead of us in our march toward certification, this first test flight represents a significant milestone for the project.”
In addition to its SureFly project, Workhorse has also worked to develop a drone delivery system that utilizes a delivery truck and drone working in unison to help drop-off packages from the truck to the destination in the last-mile of a package’s delivery route. UPS has tested the system.
The company also develops electric trucks and vehicles.