Intuitive Flight on a Counter-Intuitive Vehicle
August 16, 2012
Mojave Desert, CA August 16, 2012 – A counter-intuitive aerial vehicle is demonstrating intuitive stability and control in test flights over the Southern California desert. The manned craft developed by Aerofex, places the pilot above its tandem-ducts rather than below as one might expect. The positioning puts the pilot in a familiar riding position from which the craft takes cues to produce stable flight without artificial stabilization. Used by Aerofex as a test-bed for developing manned and unmanned aerial vehicle technology, its utility as a manned platform may in time rival the unmanned variants it spawns.
Unlike the small flying platforms of the 1950’s, the vehicle’s size is too great for the pilot to influence alone. Instead a unique interface tracks his movements and commands aerodynamic controls that influence the vehicle accordingly. The result is intuitive piloting with very little training. “Sometimes you see something work and think ‘Oh of course, that makes sense’, and then it’s as if it’s always been that way. Right up until we proved the concept, even one of our brightest engineers was certain it would roll right over” states Mark De Roche, the company’s CTO and Founder. “Its an understandable way of thinking, as our minds tend to consider stability in static terms, rather than dynamic.”
While there are currently no stated plans to productize the craft, the piloted test-bed is reviving a promising configuration that was last flown in the 1960’s. Abandoned at the time due to complexity and high pilot workload, the tandem-duct configuration is showing new potential for manned and unmanned applications as a result of technology developed with the test-bed. A more capable version of the vehicle is due to start flying in October to investigate three related technologies to further simplify vertical flight.
Aerofex Corporation is a developer of manned and unmanned aerial-vehicle technology. The company’s goal is to increase access to the benefits and utility of flight. Since its inception, Aerofex has participated in the development of advanced spacecraft and experimental aircraft for numerous organizations. Aerofex has been awarded patents for aviation and propulsion technology as well as FAA approvals for products in the air-transport industry. Aerofex is located in Manhattan Beach, California.