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Martine Rothblatt Follows Through on Her Electric Helicopter Prediction

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Elon Musk has always said that the goal for Tesla is to “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.” As the company continues to build on that mission with its increasingly efficient electric vehicles and Tesla Energy products, we are beginning to see glimpses of how that goal has inspired others.

A great example of that inspiration in action is Martine Rothblatt’s efforts to build an electric helicopter. Rothblatt is a highly-accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded Sirius XM before launching United Therapeutics. She also owns several Teslas and was a featured speaker at TMC Connect 2016.

On Monday, she shared the following with TMCLast year I projected to TMC that I would create and fly electric helicopter inspired by my 9 years of Tesla cars. Mission accomplished: Since that TMC event in Reno we have flown and set altitude (800 ft), duration (30 min), speed (100 knots) and payload (2 pilots) records for electric helicopters aka E-VTOL. Thank you Tesla for the inspiration!!!

Rothblatt created the helicopter in partnership with her engineering company Tier 1 Engineering. The team began with an inexpensive helicopter and added batteries from electric motorcycle company Brammo and an electric motor. Rothblatt has said this version is a proof of concept, which will be improved with a battery system and motor designed specifically for a helicopter.

Another Rothblatt company, Lung Biotechnology, funded the project for less than $1 million. The aim for the project is to create electric helicopters to transport organs to hospital much more cleanly and quietly.

Below is a video from Septemeber of Rothblatt’s helicopter making its historic first flight just months after Connect 2016, a five-minute cruise to 400 feet altitude with a peak speed of 80 knots. Also embedded is an excerpt from her presentation at TMC Connect. You can see her full presentation from TMC Connect 2016 here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-05wY41ht1s” video_title=”1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEN7Ztboprw” video_title=”1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,377
2,802
Redmond, WA
Very cool. I loved her talk at TMC Connect 2016, and was assuming I'd hear somehow once she was successful.

Thanks for putting the update here! I had missed her post.
 

jbcarioca

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Feb 3, 2015
5,818
33,499
Electric helicopters? Why not use so-called multi-rotor aerial vehicles?
One possibility: The Robinson R-44 is a four passenger pisson-powered helicopter that has the highest gross weight in the category:
R44 Raven I - Robinson Helicopter Company
with a heavy old-technology Lycoming IO-540 engine, dating from a 1960's design that weighs about 450 lb installed. That gives a little margin in space and weight for use of batteries and motor, with simplified ancillary controls also.
Thus, a conventional helicopter, cheap if bought with run-out engine, can be converted and operate decently, if a trifle short-range.

Any other option will be much more difficult to deploy without lots of incremental development work. As a proof-of-concept it is the obvious choice, IMHO.
FWIW, I'm a helicopter pilot and once owned a fleet of these Robinsons.
 

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