The concept of home-to-office personal flight is starting to become a reality and it seems multirotor ideas are cropping up each week. The Silicon Valley startup VTOL BlackFly is showing particular promise and recently demonstrated flying prototypes under the ultralight category. Marketed by Opener Inc., the carbon-fiber BlackFly is equipped with eight electric motors. Each motor weighs four pounds and generates 130 pounds of thrust. Opener says the company has been testing motor-rotor sets for more than three and half years, covering a distance equivalent to 20 circumnavigations of the globe. There are two batteries per each engine-rotor pod and they are constantly being monitored.
“The control systems in each wing are triple redundant, leaving room for system failures,” said Alan Eustace, director and salesperson for Opener Inc. Eustace served as senior vice president of knowledge at Google and has held the world record for highest-altitude free-fall jump since 24 October 2014.
The BlackFly is restricted to 62 MPH in the United States. The BlackFly’s unique canted wings fore and aft provide lift in level flight, easing the burden on the lift rotors. With a 25 percent reserve, it can fly for about 25 miles before a recharge. With a regular 110-volt outlet, it can charge in seven hours and in only one hour using a 220-volt outlet. Whilst version three has not yet flown, version two has made more than 500 take-offs and landings, often with worst-case-scenario engine failures programmed into the test card.
“It was built completely with safety in mind,” Eustace said. Like a modern drone, the BlackFly has a “go to home” feature and also auto-land as well as a ballistic parachute. Version three of the BlackFly will be available for purchase in 2019. While it does not yet have a price, Eustace said it will be “competitive with the price of an SUV.”