Workhorse Electric Octocopter – (w/video)

DEC 24 2017 BY MARK KANE 35

The SureFly sure does fly.

Workhorse recently unveiled its electric two-seat octocopter SureFly, which tries to reinvent the 78-year-old helicopter to provide an easy, affordable and traffic-avoiding flying solution.


The SureFly is propelled by eight independent propellers and electric motors for full redundancy (well, there is a ballistic parachute just in case the octocopter fails). The electricity comes from a generator – 2L 4-cylinder engine and YASA generator and two 7.5 kWh batteries. The range is claimed to be around 70 miles on the generator, as the battery works more like backup power.

It’s designed to be simple to use – it will fly manually by setting altitude using the Up or Down buttons and move using a joystick. There will be an automatic mode too, in which you just set your destination.

Workhorse expects that the price will be under $200,000, although the company admits it will need a couple of years to get certification to fly the SureFly in our skies.

“The time has come. After 78 years, the helicopter has been reinvented. SureFly is a personal helicopter/VTOL aircraft designed for safe and easy flight. With eight independent motors each driving a single carbon fiber propeller, a backup battery power system, and a ballistic parachute to safely land in the event of emergency, the SureFly provides unparalleled safety for a personal aircraft.”

“SureFly is changing the helicopter industry. Now is the time to discover the affordable, easy-to-pilot, safe answer to personal flight.”

“With our tech expertise developing carbon fiber drones and electric battery powered vehicles, we now showcase our two person, 8 rotor helicopter. This hybrid aircraft is designed for a short hop application with an estimated 70 mile range. In addition the SureFly packs an on-board fully redundant backup battery system. The four carbon fiber arms fold down providing a small footprint to store inside a standard garage.”


  • Electric Driven Props: 2 props per arm, contra rotating. Eight motors, each driving a single propeller
  • Piloted Vehicle designed to carry pilot and passenger or pilot and cargo
  • Curb Weight: 1100lbs. Max Takeoff Weight: 1500lbs
  • Gasoline Piston Engine drives dual generators to provide power to prop motors
  • Dual Lithium Battery Packs: 7.5kWh each, used for emergency landing power (5 minutes) in the event the gasoline generator fails
  • Full computer and electrical system redudancy
  • Ballistic Parachute
  • Fuselage and props are carbon fiber for durability and light weight
  • 70 mph top speed
  • One hour of flight time available per tank of gasoline
  • Flight ceiling of 4000 feet.
  • Fix Prop Pitch and no transitional parts (No wings, tail, tilt rotor or tilt wings) for simplicity and safet










SureFly & Workhorse W-15



Categories: General


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35 Comments on "Workhorse Electric Octocopter – (w/video)"

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Cool, a big personal quad copter that fits on a trailer!

I don’t see any advantages. Molier has tried for fifty years to revolutionize personal transportation and I think he had a much better solution. The conventional helicopter in many ways is much less complicated than this.

Anyway, cars are much more efficient than aircraft. At one time I was very interested in flying now I’m much more interested in sustainable, zero emission ground vehicles. We need to make sure our children have a future before we can afford to indulge in fantasies.

Lots of potential here. Theoretically it could take off and land quietly. And based on drone technology, this thing could be highly maneuverable. Autonomous transport could probably be safer than ground based cars with less pedestrians, etc.

There’s certainly money to be made if this thing is allowed to land where regular helicopters cannot…Currently only has a range of 70 miles but the rich would pay for that if they can beat the traffic…

The indomitable Volantor, better known as Moeller’s Folly. How many decades of his life did he spend building that? He should have sold the intellectual property to someone 10 years ago.

I agree, it is far more attractive, and capable. However, it is, as you say, not sustainable. Frankly, other than emergency services or hobbyists, both designs are duly obsolete for mass market. When the Hyperloop routes come online, air travel may be very limited compared to today.

“The SureFly sure does fly.”

None of the videos show it flying. I looked and couldn’t find any videos that show it actually flying.

lol, I thought the same thing, not one video on Youtube or their own website, that shows it flying. I don’t think it’s ever left the ground…and he’s hoping to be selling it in under 2 years…yeah right!
It won’t be until the early 20’s until these are being sold…at which point they will have wished they didn’t spend the time on making it a hybrid, when a solid state battery is the much better option for it.

If there is a suitable battery option available, I am sure they would be glad to drop the ICE and go pure electric.

Batteries are really heavy. I am not sure they’ll ever be a good solution for something fairly large that needs to fly a good distance. It works fine for drones that don’t go too far.

That’s what I was looking for also.

Totally not believable given dozens of videos with it on the ground and none flying.

I’m sure you can put a deposit down now to reserve your position!

Maybe someday the dream of the flying car will finally die and be put to rest, but not anytime soon I guess. It’s dumb idea that never ceases to generate investor money, or deposit money, so on it goes…

The dream of millions of people without a pilot’s license operating aircraft above densely populated urban areas… what could possibly go wrong?

It’s good that this ostensibly flying concept vehicle has safety systems to reduce the risk and speed of an impact in case of crash, but in any scenario where you have large numbers of flying vehicles operating every day, some of the are going to crash occasionally. And when that happens, you are not going to want either your person or your property to be underneath!

Where is Elon, this is a no brainer for him.
Deposits Now and no production for years.

He puts his name on this and 400,000 reservations overnight! Not $1,000 but $10,000 each.

I see this thing as the cabin of a tesla. Traffic is bad, you pull over and Park, push a button and the whole roof opens and the car’s cabin is now your drone cockpit, rotor arms unfold and Off you go !

Nope, it has a gas engine. No good for Tesla’s vision of personal transport.

No, Elon thinks out side the box. He’s have us all in personal mole machines digging around under the city! All electric of course.

You heard it here first folks.

Looks like you were scooped by Elon. Keep trying. You never truly lose as long as you believe in yourself! 😀

I’m surprised that it only has a 70 mile range on gasoline. I mean, how big is the tank? If it is just a gallon, it seems like adding another gallon would be easy. But if it uses a several gallons of gas to go 70 miles, that’s terrible fuel economy.

I think I’d prefer the solution by Lilium since it does at least have similar lift properties to an airplane (using actual airfoil wings) so that would probably make it a lot more efficient

Generally speaking, aircraft are notoriously profligate with fuel consumption; sailplanes being a notable exception. Ground vehicles don’t have to expend power just holding them up.

And let me break this to you gently: The rotors on a helicopter are airfoils; thus the terms “fixed-wing aircraft” and “rotary-wing aircraft”.

I like that you added a big word and Googled air foils so that it gave you the opportunity to make you feel better commenting only to correct someone appeared build yourself up.

It shows that some adults, do indeed, still think like appeared child.

I am sure it is only a matter of time before you correct my typos, because I typed and responded to this quickly, and make any suggestions regarding my grammar or the terms I have used.

What big words?

A gallon? ROFL.
Helicopters are notoriously fuel-inefficient on a mileage basis. In optimal conditions, think more like 7mpg for the common 5-passenger Bell 206, see here…

And that doesn’t include getting to/from cruising altitude or any maneuvers, fighting head- or sidewinds etc. The weight of the fuel is significant energy-to-weight of batteries still doesn’t come close to fuel, so a BEV helicopter still isn’t practical.

Is it (in theory) more efficient than a conventional helicopter of the same capacity? Didn’t see specs for fuel burn.

The concept of using a small “personal” helicopter to replace automobile travel goes back at least as far as Clifford Simak’s classic 1944 science fiction short story “City”, which became the first in a series later collected as City.

But the idea of an “everyman” personal flying machine is never going to fly 🙂 so long as it requires a pilot’s license to operate.

Funny, cause that was the first thing I thought of as the book opens that’s how people are getting around mostly.
Simac does not develop the idea, he just sort of tosses it off as this is the way things are going, etc…
Still a great book, but I’m not too worried about the dogs, or the ants.

Frankly I don’t think the concept is ever going to fly. Maybe these will be used by a few people in rural areas. I doubt any significant number will be allowed to fly over a city–not more than a minuscule number.

The truth is this is not a way to be able to move a lot of people. To move tons of people things like mass transit work better. It’s actually pretty asinine that the Chinese are even buying cars because their cities are too crowded for the car to really function, whether it’s gas powered or EV powered makes little difference.

This is simply a different version of an idea that has been presented time and time again. The difference is that this will never see commercial use, where the Ehang will be the operational test bed. Unfortunately, there is no air traffic control system in place to handle the mass amount of civilian drones, delivery aircraft, and personal flying vehicles, to make it safe. People have yet to learn how to make driving safe, much less airspace traffic. Autonomous vehicles will definitely be superior when you consider the amount of people with drivers licenses, who lack the basic skills and common sense that is required to safely operate a motor vehicle. I have to say that I side with those who are hesitant to let the average person fly themselves through the air. The technology is there and available, people have yet to advance to the point where they can be trusted to act responsibly.

Check out the utube video of the Chinese flying taxie.

Just calling it the “ShoeFly”, would be a more appropriate moniker.

The “ShoeFly” has its sole seemingly always firmly planted on the tarmac, and it just won’t make the journey without supplemental auxiliary ground transport assistance. It’s a nice well done mock up!

Looks like a bad copy of the full electric Chinese Ehang 184 already presented at CES two years ago.

That only has a range of 23 miles though. Maybe with better batteries it’s now up to, what, 30? That’s not really long enough to be practical.

Yes, the longer range is an advantage but you lose the pure ev simplicity and compacity of the ehang 184 in the process. Of course you gain a passenger seat but then again, the Lilium has two passengers also and has a even larger 200 mile range still on pure electric. The Lilium is also much more beautiful esthetically speaking and has a 5 passenger model.
I guess there is room for all of them. Perhaps this one could land on a street more easily and so be used as an ambulance or police vehicle.

Curb Weight 11000, max take off 1500. 400 lbs is not much margin for 2 people +luggage…….

oops, “1100”