Largest quadcopter – about them
The past couple of years have seen the number of drone hobbyists increase significantly. Besides, the competition among quadcopter manufacturers has produced several exciting models and additions (like FPV quads and GPS-equipped ones), all to the delight of quadcopter hobbyists worldwide.
Size-wise, we have seen Quadcopters ranging from the micro-sized models to relatively larger ones like the DJI S1000. This begs the following question: How big can we expect future hobbyist Quadcopters to get?
Problems of large quadcopters
First of all, it’s important to investigate why large human-piloted Quadcopters are not in use.
One should realize that scaling up a quadcopter model similar to commonly used flying vehicles like Helicopters presents different challenges. The physics of aero-engineering is notably one of the main obstacles to producing a human-piloted quadcopter.
Hobbyist Quadcopters function efficiently due to a combination of design, light materials used, and small electric motors that make them require significantly less power to fly. Furthermore, as flying toys, the human pilot’s safety does not factor in meaningfully in the design process, making scaling them up for human flying more complicated. In simpler terms, if a quadcopter were to be explicitly designed to
carry pilots. Then it must follow international safety regulations and include fail-safe mechanisms, which can incur high costs and mechanical burden on the traditionally cheap and safe Quadcopters.
Moreover, it is not sure whether small electric rotors would be the ideal motors for large Quadcopters.
Especially that large model will be much heavier and presumed to offer a modest carriage capacity at the very least.
The challengers that large Quadcopters present are also because developing them requires dedicated research programs for everything from aero-technology and flying safety to composite engineering.
Funding these vital and expensive research programs is not a priority for the quadcopter industry, which means that manufacturers are not planning on releasing any large Quadcopters any soon. Of course, all it takes for the industry to be interested in for the market’s demand increases.
Also worth mentioning is the problem of training and other bureaucratic impediments. As it now stands, there are no training programs for quadcopter pilots. Such programs would surface once large.
Quadcopters are commercially available, but things like flying regulation, certifications, and licensing are bound to complicate large Quadcopters more than the smaller ones.
It can be easy to assume that drone technology advances would allow them to scale enough to effectively and cheaply carry human pilots. After all, one of the Quadcopters’ most attractive features is the low cost you can manufacture and even acquire. Like this, hobbyists and manufacturers are seriously looking into how far the technology can be pushed and whether it can challenge the commercial aircraft industry. Likewise, car traffic and the astronomical costs of acquiring and maintaining helicopters are two additional factors bringing the question of large Quadcopters to imminence.
Unfortunately, it is too soon to determine whether human-piloted Quadcopters would develop into such designs. Developing large Quadcopters requires the intersection of inter-disciplinary cooperation of various engineering and scientific fields.
Fortunately, human ingenuity and technological advances are bound to lead to such results. For example, the online RC products website HobbyKing organized a large initiative dubbed” beer life,” in which site users were encouraged to compete in deploying a quadcopter capable of lifting the heaviest amount of beer possible.
Although this initiative does not aim to build a sizeable human-piloted quadcopter, it challenges hobbyists to address some issues that manufacturing one would create.
Another notable example is that of the experimental E-Volo multirotor aircraft. The idea, which started as a simple experimental prototype –seen in the video below—developed into a fully-fledged aviation company with its flagship multirotor E-Volo aircraft.
This project represents the revolutionary product that quadcopter enthusiasts have been waiting for. By taking the best of helicopters and Quadcopters, E-Volo becomes an efficient and eco-friendly alternative for classical helicopters.
With 18 different rotors, E-Volo provides more redundancy against motor and flight-control failures.
The vehicle is also emission-free in a time when aircraft-caused pollutions are gaining more publicity, and the demand for more eco-friendly aircraft is more urgent than ever.
Furthermore, the German company is closely working with the German government to make air legislation more accommodating for the upcoming wave of large Quadcopters while guaranteeing utmost safety and order.
To summarize, scaling up a quadcopter is deceptively tricky. On the one hand, the simplicity that Quadcopters are known for becomes impossible to maintain as you scale a model up, taking factors like safety mechanisms and pilot carriage capacity into consideration. The quadcopter manufacturing industry is unlikely to pursue such projects soon due to the expensive R&D investments that have to be made to develop Large Human-piloted Quadcopters.