Over the past 30+ years Moller International and its predecessor companies have been working on the development of the technologies required for a new class of vehicles called volantors. The M200G “Neuera” (pronounced “new era”) will be the first of these volantors to enter the market as a vertical take off & landing (VTOL) fast, low-cost personal recreational or utility vehicle.
The multipurpose Neuera can operate up to 10 feet above any surface: land, water, sand, snow, swamp or grasslands. It can be used like other recreational vehicles, combining the capabilities of a boat, hovercraft, ATV, snowmobile or other off-road vehicle. It also has the hover and vertical take off and landing capabilities of a helicopter and the ability to leap over barriers and other obstacles. Its ducted fans provide lift and propulsion without the dangerous exposed rotor blades and high maintenance costs of rotary-winged aircraft. The vehicle uses state-of-the-art fly-by-wire computer technology to monitor, control and maintain stability of the vehicle, while simultaneously making it simple and easy to operate.
AEROBOT® Flying Platforms
Moller International has developed a number of small VTOL aircraft called Aerobots® that are capable of operating autonomously as airborne robots or semi-autonomously as remotely controlled VTOL aircraft. In its simplest form, a single ducted fan is electronically stabilized and designed to carry a payload from 5 to 90 lbs. In its most complex form, a multi-duct M200 Neuera-based Aerobot can be outfitted to carry up to 650 lbs and be flown by remote control.
Various sizes using either electrical power provided via a tether or untethered fuel-driven engines can be produced. The fuel-driven versions, using the extraordinary power-to-weight of our Rotapower® rotary engines provides the Aerobot with a simple yet effective propulsion system in single or multi-duct configurations. Our proprietary engine and flight control system components share many similarities with our manned VTOL aircraft, allowing the Aerobot to have a highly verasitile yet affordable control architecture.
Potentially, our Skycar could be used as an unmanned "Aerobot-like" drone, as shown in the artist rendering below.
Unlike its competitors, the Aerobot is simple to use and has low operations and maintenance costs, making it a wise choice for a wide range of applications.
Aerobot® and Rotapower® are a registered trademarks of Moller International in the US and other countries.
We plan to produced two Neuera demonstration units this year, a M200G and M200 Firefly. These will not be for sale to the general public, but we continue to plan for the construction of up to twenty 100 LS and Neuera models in 2013 along with up to forty-three Skycar 200 LS aircraft. The newly designed Skycar 200 LS is now seen as a more desirable product with a greater overall potential than the Neuera, and therefore we have shifted priorities to this two-passenger, high-speed VTOL volantor. We continue to belive the best venue for the sale of our initial volantors is an auction available to participants worldwide. Anyone interested in participating in the auction can deposit a fully refundable $500 registration fee and have their name placed on the auction notification list.
2. How many Neuera are you currently working on? When do you expect to complete them and have a demonstration?We have three additional Neuera models under construction and have one that we have designated the Firefly. It uses more powerful engines to increase its potential payload to approximately 750 lbs. This version of the Neuera will be able to operate to an altitude of approximately 2,000 feet and is intended for fire fighting, search and rescue and other specialized missions that require the unique capabilities of our volantor. Our production schedule has slowed due to a lack of funds, but we hope to get back on track this year. We estimate component fabrication, assembly and preliminary tests will require approximately nine months, with manned flight tests and demonstrations to follow.
3. How safe is the M 200G and how are you proving that it is safe?
Most VTOL aircraft are extremely intolerant to failures of their propulsion systems. The M200 and M400-series volantors have been designed to withstand a failure of an engine during VTOL operations by using multiple engines to provide thrust. If an engine were to fail while the aircraft is in hover, our redundant propulsion system can accommodate the failure by providing additional thrust from the other engines. We also have redundant control system components using multiple computer-assisted flight controllers. During flight tests we have induced engine failures and had no significant loss of control or stability.
4. What is the potential for vehicles such as this to impact on congestion and traffic?
The M200G is not intended for general use over developed areas. It is our intent to offer this vehicle for utilitarian and recreational purposes over undeveloped terrain. We believe its use within an urban setting would be limited to public safety operations such as fire fighting, medical evacuation, transport and insertion of tactical personnel, and other critical missions that the craft is uniquely qualified to perform.
5. How long will it take for the vehicles to be competitively priced enough to truly compete with traditional on-road vehicles? – Along with safety, price will surely be hugely important in determining the long-term effects in alleviating congestion on the roads?
Again, our view for the role of the M200-type vehicles is more for recreation and public safety operations than for routine travel. The vehicle’s special capabilities and ease of use make it an excellent choice for these functions. Use in more general travel scenarios would necessitate a dramatic improvement in fuel economy for the M200-based products. We believe the M200 series products will remain primarily used for public safety and recreational applications. We believe the M400, with its higher speed, longer range and aerodynamic cruise capabilities, will be an affordable alternative to mid- to long range commuting in the not too distant future. Its combined VTOL and high-speed flight capabilities, good fuel economy, roadability and potential low cost when made in high volume are expected to make it a very attractive alternative to ground-based transportation. Furthermore, we believe that while volume production of the M400 is perhaps a decade away, within the next few years we will have demonstrated the M400 Skycar’s ability to overcome a variety of ground-based transportation problems that plague us today.
6. Is there a waiting list for the M200G?
We have a number of people who have put deposits on the M400 who will be given an opportunity to apply this deposit to the M200G. Since we have not yet made this offer to the existing depositors I don't have a firm number, but my guess is that perhaps as many as 50 of these depositors may move over to the M200G list.
7. Does my M200G auction list registration deposit earn interest?
8. Where can I get service or warranty work done on my M200G?
Service for the vehicle would need to be performed by Moller International, or its authorized representatives. Since we don't have any authorized representatives yet, we would probably look to see where you are and see if anyone locally has the required skill set. If they do, we can offer to train them to perform the maintenance and warranty work. If not, the work would need to be done here in Davis, California.
9. What is the price for a M200G?
Initial sales of the M200 Neuera will be through an international auction. Once the M200 production level reaches 1,000 per year it is anticipated that the price will be less than $250,000, however, the ultimate purchase price of the M200 will be governed by its engine cost, which depends on the engines' widespread use in other applications.
10. Do I need a pilot’s license to fly the M200G?
We do not anticipate a requirement for a private pilots license to operate the M200G. It is constrained to an altitude of about 10 feet above the ground, and therefore falls into the classification of a ground effect vehicle. The FAA has stated that it is not going to take authority for regulating these kinds of vehicles, but constraining a vehicle to ground effect operation, even though it is capable of flying much higher, is a unique application of operation under the FAA’s ground effect category. Therefore the FAA will have some oversight. Other federal, state or local ordinances may apply and we will do our best to keep everyone informed of these requirements as they develop.
11. How would the M200G behave if it came to steep drop off?
The terrain following software would see that the vehicle was out of the ground effect region and attempt to reestablish contact with this zone. It would allow the vehicle to proceed at its maximum safe descent rate until it reestablished contact with the surface and then proceed accordingly.
12. How does it handle in the wind?
The artificial stability system is continuous checking for non-commanded changes in the attitude of the craft, and when one is detected it attempts to correct it. These corrections typically require about a fifth of a second to occur, resulting in a very smooth flight. We have flown in some pretty significant wind conditions, and believe that in all but the worst of conditions the vehicle would remain very stable. More tests and data will have to be collected to determine the limitations for routine operations.
13. Won’t the M200G cause traffic problems when it is used in cities?
The M200G is intended for use "off-road" somewhat like an ATV or hovercraft would be used. It is meant as an alternative to a trail bike, boat, jeep, airboat or other off-road vehicle to access remote areas that would otherwise not be open for travel. It is not intended for use above roads, trails, walkways, etc. and especially not within an urban area where there are lots of other alternatives. The exception to this would be for emergency services like fire fighting, search and rescue, and emergency medical evacuation from high-rise buildings and such.
14. Is the thrust from the fans going to be a danger to the pedestrians the vehicle flies over?
We do not believe so. In some of our videos you can clearly see the photographers around and under the vehicle during the test flights. No one is suffering any particular discomfort from this exposure. We have personnel who stood under the M400 while it has hovered over their heads not more than 10 feet and experienced little more than a good gust of wind. The airflow is fast, but relatively low volume compared to that of a helicopter, which many people find much more discomforting. Still, it is not something that we intend to happen on a frequent basis, so we really don't believe downwash from the vehicle is going to be a major issue.
15. Isn’t the noise from the engines and fans going to be a problem?
The M200G uses multiple Rotapower engines, a 4-stroke rotary engine (similar in many ways to the engine used in a Mazda RX-8) and while it is true that we have eight of them, noise is not cumulative so eight engines don't make the vehicle eight times louder. Unless someone modifies a car's exhaust system, the noise levels produced are generally acceptable, just as they are anticipated to be in the M200G. In addition, there is some fan noise, but again this doesn't increase the level of noise cumulatively, so it should be something we can constrain to an acceptable level.
The M200 Neuera is a two-passenger volantor that has undergone over 200 manned and unmanned test flights. It is simple to fly, inexpensive to maintain, and fun to use. Various models can address a number of roles where speed and range are not critical, such as many utilitarian and recreational applications. Models of the Neuera are uniquely positioned to fit into the following markets:
Operates in “ground effect”, the region within one vehicle diameter of the ground—in this case within 10 feet. Allows the Neuera to be purchased fully assembled and ready for use. May be operated without a pilot’s license.
Operates as a rescue vehicle in a role that no existing vehicle can address, such as extracting personnel from the side of a skyscraper. Use would be limited to emergency situations and operation by military and/or public safety personnel.
An “Experimental” class aircraft to be offered to the individual “kit” aircraft builder for home assembly.
The Neuera’s only competition is the light helicopter, which has various drawbacks—difficult to operate, poor safety record, and is expensive to acquire and operate. Helicopters do have one advantage: their ability to lift a heavier payload with less power, but if payload and range are not critical then the Neuera is the right vehicle for you!
The prototype of the Neuera, the M200X, has been flown in scores of manned, tethered demonstration flights and is being prepared for additional testing. The video below shows this VTOL aircraft in operation during one of the well attended demonstrations.