OK, I get it – it’s not a helicopter. It’s a multirotor. A quadcopter, perhaps? A drone? VTOL? Whatever it is, it’s a piloted flying machine, and you can actually buy one from China. It’s scary. It’s wild. And it’s this week’s entry in the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week.
This electric aircraft isn’t cheap – though it’s probably a lot cheaper than the single-seater drones currently in development in the west.
At a price of $78,000, this is an expensive way to risk your life. But at least shipping is cheap, coming in at just $618! They must know I love a deal.
Once you receive the thing (assuming it shows up), it looks like you’ll find a fairly capable machine.
Weighing just 110 kilograms (242 pounds), it has a payload capacity of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds). That’s enough for me and my dog to soar through the skies, though there’s a chance that would count as animal cruelty. It’s probably best to keep this as a one-passenger affair.
The aircraft runs on a 24s battery system, meaning around 88 volts flow through those motors. That’s a lot of RC lipo batteries underneath your rear end.
There’s no word on capacity, but the sales page says you only get a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. So if I were you, I’d make it count.
You definitely won’t stay airborne as long as a massive spy balloon. But you also probably won’t have enough time in the air to get shot down, either. By the time they scramble the jets, you’d better have an emergency landing plan in place anyway.
I can already see rich dudes in Silicon Valley using these things to beat the traffic. They only fly at about 10 m/s (22 mph or 36 km/h), but that’s a lot faster than standstill traffic.
And you can buzz low enough to see the demoralized look on the faces of drivers stuck in traffic jams.
You’ll even be doing it in style! I was expecting to see a cheap Virco plastic chair or a folding lawn seat, but there’s actually a nice-looking leather captain’s chair. It’s even nicer than my own DIY electric aircraft’s chair.
They’re even considerate enough to include a complimentary seat belt, though I think that’s more for the coroner than for you.
OK, I jest a bit. But I have to admit that this looks really freaking cool. If I didn’t think there was a solid 20% chance it would just fall out of the sky at any moment, I might even be interested in trying it.
Top comment by Haggy
Not great for Silicon Valley. At 22 mph for a half hour, five miles is cutting it close if you want to make a round trip, assuming starting at 100% and no phantom drain.
Company parking lots often have EV spaces with free charging, but I don't know if that would fit. And there's not enough information on charging it.
I’d even consider just taking it up a few feet. But the thought of having a quartet of decapitators resting a few inches above my head is almost as scary as the thought of an earthward plunge.
So yeah, this is another one of those Awesomely Weird Alibaba EVs that I think I’m just going to have to enjoy window shopping for from afar. I can simply take pleasure in watching them fly away in that epic video below.
And for the record, I DO NOT recommend anyone order one of these and take to the skies. But isn’t it fun to just imagine what it’d be like?
No? It’s terrifying? OK, fair enough.
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