Humans Can Fly in This Drone-Like Electric Hybrid ‘Octocopter’
The company that partnered with UPS to create a package-delivering drone is ready to fly its new passenger aerial vehicle.
The SureFly, a two-seater electric hybrid helicopter (or “octocopter,” because of its eight propellers), has received approval from the FAA to take a test flight at CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 8.
Designed by Ohio-based commercial transportation solutions company Workhorse Group, the SureFly is designed to be safer, easier to fly and more affordable than a typical chopper. SureFly pilots can drive the aircraft in a similar manner to a drone — via joystick instead of steering wheel — and carry up to 400 pounds for up to 70 miles at a time. The aircraft is also compact: It’s smaller than a pickup truck, plus its arms and propellers fold to simplify transportation and storage.
Use cases for the SureFly might include precision agriculture, emergency response, surveillance, aerial inspection, urban commuting and military applications. Down the road, the company hopes to transition from pilot-operated to autonomous helicopters.
Workhorse unveiled the SureFly at the Paris Air Show in June 2017, and the company says it is working to receive full FAA certification by next year. It’s now available for pre-order, with production intended to begin in 2019. There’s a $1,000 refundable deposit for interested customers to add themselves to the reservation list, and the expected price is $200,000.
In late December, Workhorse Group announced that it plans to spin off SureFly into a subsidiary.