Quadcopters date back several years from now as opposed to the misconception about being a modern contraption. They are as old as manned flight. The concept of helicopter dates back to the days of Da Vinci when he drew their sketches in an era wherein nobody could even imagine of a device so advanced and sophisticated as them. Jacques and Louis Breguet are considered the inventors of the first ever quadcopter way back in 1907.
Referred to as the Gyroplane, the quadcopter had room for one person and boasted a gross weight of 1274lbs. Powered by a 46HP engine, Gyroplane could fly at a height of 2 feet for just about a minute or so.
This was not the most promising of starts to be honest but the first flight in history at Kittyhawk by the Wright brothers was also not the most auspicious of them.
At the time of its development, the design of the quadcopter was not as stable as that developed by the Wright brothers but it certainly was able to fly and that is what all that mattered.
Construction in the early days
For the few believers out there, the quadcopter design promised way too much to be relented with ease. The year 1920 saw the invention of Oehmichen 2 as the first stable quadcopter which underwent several test flights before being able to provide a flight time that spanned several minutes.
The Oehmichen No. 2 set the first ever FAI record covering a distance of 390 yards along with a circular course of 0.6 miles.
De Bothezat helicopter also known as the Flying Octopus was developed in 1922 that utilized extra rotors for pitch and yaw. It was stable and served as a nice evidence of viability of the entire concept but it was mechanically too complicated as there weren’t any electronics to control stuff. It all depended on gears, shafts and levers for things to work and it was really not possible to come up with something similar to a modern day quadcopter back then.
Quadcopter gets better
A computerized flight controller could not be integrated into the quadcopter even then but there was definite advancement in technology. The quadcopter design was proven by the Convertawings Model A Quadrotor. Previously, all the four rotors were configured to spin at the same speed and steered with extra rotors. However, Model A quadrotor employed collective pitch rotors and modified the thrust of different motors to navigate. This was a lot simpler and there was nothing really wrong with the design. But there was no consumer demand and so the project had to be aborted.
In comes the modern era!
Even full fledged manned quadcopters and other kinds of multirotors are yet to be developed. Tandem rotor helicopters such as the Chinook or tiltrotor Vertical Takeoff and Landing vehicles such as Osprey are the closest things to manned quadcopters one can think of.
There has been massive improvement in quadcopter design when it comes to UAVs. Quadcopters worth $50 can be bought from the market while there are also those that cost a fortune.
They are being used for surveillance purposes as well as for carrying out search and rescue missions. There are several other purposes that these quadcopters are being used for.
The future seems to be brimming with drones and new jobs appear to be cropping up with every passing day.
That day is not far ahead when we will be witnessing the mainstreaming of passenger carrying quadcopters similar to the one developed in China. The aircraft boasts autonomous flight features and resembles an Uber cab.
Bell Boeing Quad Tiltrotor is another military grade quadcopter envisioned as a four rotor variant of V22 Osprey boasting 50ft rotors and a fuselage equivalent to the size of a C130 cargo plane.
Sky is the limit
We have now stepped into an age where modern technology has elevated stuff into the air that has nothing to do with being in the sky. Tech savvy folk will be incorporating more and more rotors into stuff that is not at all aerodynamic. I’m still rooting for a quadcopter that will bring me my drink but I hope that it is able to fly itself as drinking and flying simultaneously don’t bode well.