The Bubbleship VTOL from yesterdays Oblivion movie post has me cranked up on vertical flight concepts, so I did a little digging to see what VTOL dreamers are up to. I turned over a few rocks on youtube and found: the Wingcopter... and I gotta say this is a very impressive concept from a small team in Germany led by Jonathan Hesselbarth. It's just an RC model at this time but after several prototypes they seem to be on to a really good thing.
An impressive VTOL concept: the Wingcopter! (photo: Wingcopter)
When I observe a verti that's meant to achieve traditional high-speed forward flight, I'm looking for just one thing to impress me: transitions from vertical to forward and back again. The Wingcopter demonstrates this in the video above with amazing stability and control! You might have to watch the video several times to see that the the motors and props are moved back into the VTOL position at about the 29 second mark. The aircraft then decelerates to near stall speed when power is brought in again to complete the transition back to vertical flight. It doesn't just look 'doable', it looks like fun!
Onboard camera view with transition to forward flight and back to vertical
The only big drawback I see with the concept thus far is that if this was a full-scale aircraft and the motor/prop assemblies became stuck in the forward flight mode, you've got a set of propellers that are going to extend well below the landing gear. That's a problem. My criteria for truly successful VTOL allows for a no-damage landing in the event that the hardware can't get out of forward-flight mode (sorry V-22 fans) - I can imagine tho that there'd be several possible modifications to the concept here to be able to meet that criteria. Overall, this is some seriously impressive work, both in the mechanics and the programming.
Detail of the motor/prop transition mechanics
You can learn more about the various designs that led to this current configuration, as well as the mechanism that drives the pivot arms on the Wingcopter.com 'prototype' page. And, if you're interested in getting in on the fun with this amazing little flying machine, check out this page where you can actually purchase a Wingcopter ARF! Note that these guys don't appear to be in the RC kit biz, they just happen to be cool enough to to be willing to sell their work so you can experience it. No price is listed, you have to follow their contact link to inquire.
It's too early to say, but this just might be a truly viable VTOL concept for the future... Bravo Wingcopter!