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GoFly Prize

GoFly Prize

Design and build a safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person. Read Overview...
Please email Info@goflyprize.com to begin your registration for Phase III. Upon expression of interest, you will be required to complete additional documents.
Overview

VISION

Remember when you were a child and wanted to fly?

We are going to make that dream a reality. We challenge you to make people fly.

The GoFly Prize is a $2,000,000 challenge to create a personal flying device that is safe, useful, and thrilling.

The goal of the GoFly Prize is to foster the development of safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying devices capable of flying twenty miles while carrying a single person.

What we are seeking is an “everyone” personal flying device, capable of being flown by ANYONE, ANYWHERE. It should be a device for ALL: young and old, city-dweller and country-dweller, expert and novice.

Now is the time. Recent advances in propulsion, energy, light-weight materials, and control and stability systems have combined to produce a moment of achievable innovation. What can be accomplished today could not have been attained even a few years ago. Technological and scientific advances have resulted in a time when our most audacious dream—the dream of pure human flight—is now achievable.

GoFly is about flying people, not flying taxis. Today we look to the sky and say “that plane is flying.” We challenge you to create a device where we look to the sky and say, “that person is flying.” The device is for a single person, but what it looks like or how it works is up to you. We welcome revolutionary design, and while all devices must be able to fly a person, you have the option to use a mannequin to simulate the user and can operate the device as a remotely piloted or autonomous UAV. The device should function safely in both crowded cities and rural areas; it should be lightweight and maneuverable enough so that anyone can move it around, and it should be quiet not only for the user, but also for the general public. We are propulsion agnostic, but like all great inventions, the device should be user-friendly--almost an extension of the user’s body, and provide the thrill of flight.

The GoFly Prize is designed to capture our imagination. Indeed, throughout human history, perhaps no dream has been more shared than that of soaring in the skies. It has been pursued by the greatest minds from every corner of the world. It captivated the thoughts of Leonardo Da Vinci, culminating in his ornithopter.  It consumed the thoughts of Wendell Moore and his Bell Labs team, resulting in the first “jet pack.” It charmed an entire generation of children as they followed the chronicles of Superman.

Our goal is the same as Da Vinci’s and children of wonder throughout the ages: Make people fly – safely and effortlessly.

Ready… set… GoFly.

 

PRIZE PURSE

The GoFly Prize Competition will award $2,000,000 in prizes over three phases, culminating in a Final Fly Off in the Autumn of 2019.

Prizes will be awarded for each phase of the Competition as follows:

Phase I                   

  • Up to ten $20,000 prizes awarded based on a written report.

Phase II                  

  • Up to five $50,000 prizes awarded based on revised Phase I material (or for new teams new Phase I material) and demonstrated performance of progress to date.

Phase III                    

  • One $1,000,000 Grand Prize awarded for the best overall fly-off score.
  • One $250,000 prize for the quietest compliant entry.
  • One $250,000 prize for the smallest compliant entry.
  • One $100,000 prize, the Pratt & Whitney Disruptor Prize, awarded for disruptive advancement of the state of the art.

A complete set of Technical Rules can be found here

 

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

Teams will keep all of their intellectual property, except that Teams will grant limited media rights to GoFly so that GoFly can publicize and promote the Competition and the Teams.  The details relating to media rights are addressed in the Phase I Competition Agreement and the Media Rights Agreement.  Other than these media rights, any rights a Team has in its inventions, drawings, patents, designs, copyrights and other intellectual property remain with the Team.   

The prize submission information that Teams provide to GoFly as part of the Competition will only be shared with the Judging Panel and representatives of GoFly who are involved in administering the Competition.  Anyone who has access to a Team’s confidential prize submission information will have signed a confidentiality agreement and agreed not to share or use such confidential information, except as may be required by law.  In addition, Teams will not have access to any nonpublic information about other Teams or their technology or performance during the Competition.

 

INNOVATION INCUBATOR

Even the best and brightest minds can use a little help sometimes.  GoFly empowers innovator teams by providing access to experienced Mentors and Masters in design, engineering, finance, law, and marketing.  In fact, every month (and sometimes multiple times each month), Teams will have the opportunity to listen to and engage in discussions with the Masters of Aerospace and Business in global webinars. Have a couple of questions on conceptual design or configuration management? Looking for insight into cutting edge noise mitigation techniques? Trying to raise funding to support your build? Masters lectures speak to those disciplines and more. Learn from DARPA chiefs, NASA gurus, Boeing Senior Technical Fellows, and the luminaries who actually wrote the textbooks. Hear about the aerospace fundraising landscape, and take a deep dive into financing decks and pitching VCs. Learn how to protect your intellectual property from patent specialists. A list of Masters along with their bios can be found in the Advisors section.

When one-on-one help is needed, all Teams will have access to our Mentor program, where Teams work directly with Mentors in their specific areas of need. Operationally, the Mentor program is organized so that Teams contact GoFly to request a Mentor within a particular discipline. Upon contact, that Team will be matched with a Mentor (or multiple mentors) in that area. During these Mentor sessions, a Team works directly with the Mentor to answer the Team’s specific questions related to their technical build (or financing, or corporate documents, etc.).  his is one-on-one support for the Teams, geared to the precise needs of each Team. GoFly believes that providing this type of support is the best way to help aspiring inventors all over the world create the kind of ground-breaking devices that the Competition seeks.

 

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

GoFly believes that solutions can come from anyone, anywhere. Scientists, engineers, academics, entrepreneurs, and other innovators with new ideas from all over the world are invited to form a Team and register to compete. To participate, a Team may organize their own members, recruit additional experts to join them, and can add new members at any time throughout the Competition. 

To be eligible to participate in the GoFly Prize, Teams must complete all registration and administration forms, including a short bio for each Team member, certain legal documents, and be accepted by GoFly into the competition.

For more information, see “Eligibility” below.

 

TIMELINE AND DELIVERABLES

The GoFly Prize Competition is a two-year Competition launched on September 26, 2017.  There will be three sequential rounds of the Competition.

Phase I                   

  • Submission of a written report and preliminary drawing

Phase II                  

  • Submission of an updated written report and demonstration of progress in development of the personal flying device

Phase III                 

  • Final Fly Off competition


A list of important dates is set forth below:

Description                                                                                                            Date

Competition Launch and Open of Registration                                                   September 26, 2017

Phase I submission deadline                                                                                 April 18, 2018

Phase I awards issued                                                                                           June 14, 2018 

Phase II registration deadline                                                                                December 14, 2018

Phase II submission deadline                                                                                February 6, 2019

Phase II awards and Phase III fly-off invitations begin to be issued                  March 26, 2019

Phase III Flight readiness review and Registration deadline                              September 2019 [TBD]

Final Fly-off                                                                                                             Q1 2020 [TBD]

 

Dates and other information are subject to change at the discretion of GoFly. GoFly will post changes on the Competition website to ensure that all registered teams are informed of any change. All submissions must be submitted electronically through the GoFly Competition website.

 

REGISTRATION AND LEGAL DOCUMENTS

To compete in the GoFly Prize, the participant must be a registered Team that has been approved by GoFly.   Note that the information below is only a summary for your convenience.  For full details, please refer to the legal documents for each phase referred to below.

PHASE I:

Innovators can compete in Phase I both as Individual Innovators and in groups.  To begin the registration process for Phase 1 (the Paper Report phase of the Competition) and be accepted to participate, you must:

  1. Sign the Phase I Competition Agreement
  2. Sign the Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement

All forms can be found here, and all may be accepted and submitted online.   

Submission of the documents will enable access to the Phase I submission form for competing.  There is no registration fee, but upon submission of a Team’s Phase I competition entry, there will be a fee of $250 for Individual Innovators or a fee of $500 for Teams with two or more persons.

 

PHASE II and PHASE III:

There is a big difference between designing on paper and actual building/flying, so the documents involved for the different phases of the GoFly Prize vary as well.   In order to proceed from Phase I (the paper, technical specifications phase of the competition) into the actual building (Phases II and III of the Competition), ALL Teams must submit an additional application and be accepted as a Phase II or Phase III Team by GoFly. Under no circumstances should any off-paper work, building or testing take place before a Team is formally admitted into Phase II or Phase III of the GoFly Prize. Should any work be done off-paper before being accepted into Phase II or Phase III in contravention of the foregoing, such work is done entirely outside the scope of the GoFly Prize.

The Phase II and III Application forms will be available in May 2018.  Each Phase II and III Team is required to complete the package of legal documents which will govern the Competition, including the following:

  • Master Team Agreement
  • Certificate of Insurance (as required by the Master Team Agreement)
  • Updated Team Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement
  • Updated Team Member Release of Liability and Indemnification Agreement
  • Media Rights Agreement
  • Participant Equity Agreement, including the Company Questionnaire and the other documents referenced therein.

Of note, Phase II and III Teams must register and participate as legal entities, and not as individuals.  See “Eligibility” below for further details.


FOR ALL PHASES OF THE COMPETITION:

Teams must sign all legal documents and comply with all requirements therein to be admitted to the Competition.  Once GoFly determines that a Team has complied with all requirements of the legal documents and these Competition Guidelines, it will notify the Team that it is approved for entry into the Competition.

Team shall designate a Team Member to act as “Team Leader”. The Team Leader will be responsible for communicating with GoFly and the Judging Panel. The Team Leader (and all Team members) must be at least 18 years old (or the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence, if such age is older than 18 years). Team may add and/or remove Team Members at any time through the Team Portal.  Team has sole responsibility for adding and removing Team Members.

At registration, each Team must list each individual that is part of the Team, and such list shall include all individuals or entities involved in the design, development, or testing of the Submission, including employees (“Team Members”). All Team Members must register at the Competition website and sign the Phase I Competition Agreement.  Team may add and/or remove Team Members at any time through the Team Portal.  Team has sole responsibility for adding and removing Team Members. 

Teams may revise registration information at any time and are responsible for keeping information up to date.   All Teams wishing to continue on to Phase II must complete all Phase II legal documents by the Phase II registration deadline. New teams who have not participated in Phase I are still eligible to participate in Phase II by completing registration documents by the Phase II registration deadline.

As part of this Competition, GOFLY may receive some of Team’s and Team Members’ personal information. The collection, use, and disclosure of this information will be governed by GOFLY’s Privacy Policy. The Privacy Policy includes several ways to contact GOFLY with questions.  By submitting such information, Team agrees that (i) GOFLY may use the personal information collected as described in the Privacy Policy and (ii) GOFLY may disclose such Team’s and Team Members’ contact information and Competition registration information to Boeing, other Competition sponsors, and GoFly affiliates and investors.  Team expressly authorizes each of the foregoing to contact Team if Boeing so desires.  Teams have the right to access, withdraw, and correct their personal information. 

 

ELIGIBILITY

Phase I Eligibility:

Individual Innovators: The Competition is open to individual Innovators who (a) are at least 18 years old (or the age of majority in his/her jurisdiction of residence if it is older than 18), (b) comply fully with all terms and conditions of the Phase I Competition Agreement, and (c) are able to participate without violation of any third-party rights or obligations, including without limitation an employer’s policies or procedures.

Exclusions: Individual Innovators may not be (a) a Boeing employee or a member of any Boeing employee’s immediate family, (b) located in a jurisdiction where participation in the Competition is prohibited or otherwise restricted by law (or an individual with a residence in or who is a national of Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea or Sudan) or (c) subject to export controls or sanctions of the U.S.

Business Entities:  The Competition is open to legal entities that wish to compete as a team and (a) are validly formed and in existence under applicable law, (b) comply fully with all terms and conditions of the Phase I Competition Agreement, and (c) are able to participate without violation of any third-party rights or obligations.    

Exclusions:  Entity Innovators must not have any presence in Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea or Sudan or be subject to export controls or sanctions of the United States.
 

Phase II and Phase III Eligibility:

Among other requirements, the Competition is open to business entities that wish to compete as a team and (a) are validly formed and in existence under applicable law, (b) comply fully with all terms and conditions of the Master Team Agreement, (c) have completed the full package of required legal documents, and (d) are able to participate without violation of any third-party rights or obligations.    

All Team Members must (a) be at least 18 years old (or the age of majority in his/her jurisdiction of residence if it is older than 18), (b) comply fully with all terms and conditions of the Master Team Agreement and all other GoFly legal documents, and (c) be able to participate without violation of any third-party rights or obligations, including without limitation an employer’s policies or procedures.

Exclusions: A Team Member may not be (a) a Boeing employee or a member of any Boeing employee’s immediate family, (b) a Pratt & Whitney employee or a member of any Pratt & Whitney employee’s immediate family, (c) located in a jurisdiction where participation in the Competition is prohibited or otherwise restricted by law (or an individual with a residence in or who is a national of Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea or Sudan) or (d) subject to export controls or sanctions of the U.S..  Additionally, Teams must not have any presence in Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea or Sudan or be subject to export controls or sanctions of the United States. In all cases, each Team’s legal documents, forms and questionnaires are subject to GoFly’s review and approval.

Each Team’s compliance with these requirements and eligibility for the Competition will be determined by GoFly in its sole discretion.  Only Teams meeting all of the eligibility requirements set forth in the Master Team Agreement as determined by GoFly and who are otherwise qualified and accepted by GoFly will be recognized as participants in the Competition. 

Each Team must obey all local, national, and international laws in undertaking any activities related to the Competition.  Team must fully comply with all applicable laws and acquire all necessary licenses, waivers, and/or permits from the applicable regulatory bodies or other applicable third parties. GoFly is not required to advise Team regarding such legal and regulatory compliance, and GoFly shall have no responsibility for Team’s compliance with laws applicable to Team and disclaims any responsibility for advising on the applicability of laws or regulations applicable to a Team’s participation in the Competition or Team’s compliance therewith.  GoFly’s acceptance of Team into the Competition does not constitute approval of Team’s compliance with laws applicable to Team.

 

TEAM SUBMISSIONS

For each Phase of the Competition, Teams will be required to submit the materials and writings described in these Guidelines (“Submissions”).  All Submissions must comply with the following requirements:

  • Except for purchased or licensed content, any Submission must be original work of Team;
  • Submission must include only content (including any technical information, algorithms, designs, music, audio, visual or illustrative content, including logos, images, graphics, art, or other content, information, or materials protected any intellectual property right) that Team owns or has proper rights to use;
  • Team is required to disclose any purchased or licensed content that is part of a Submission.
  • Submissions must not contain any incomplete, corrupt, damaged, or malicious material;
  • Submissions must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, copyright, trade secret, patent, trademark, publicity or any intellectual property rights;
  • Submissions must not disparage GoFly, any Competition sponsor, any GoFly affiliate or investor or any of their respective affiliates, officers, directors or employees;
  • Submissions must not contain material that is inappropriate, offensive, indecent, obscene, tortious, defamatory, slanderous or libelous and must not contain material that promotes bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age; and
  • Submissions must not contain material that is unlawful, in violation of, or contrary to laws or regulations.

 

JUDGING PANEL

INDEPENDENT JUDGING PANEL

No Judge, nor any member of Judge’s immediate family, shall participate in any team.  All members of the Judging Panel will promptly disclose to GoFly any such current, former, or expected future conflict of interest with GoFly, Boeing and/or any Team or Team member.

ROLE OF THE JUDGING PANEL

The duties and responsibilities of the Judging Panel will include, but not be limited to: (i) evaluating teams’ compliance with the Competitors Agreement, these Competition Guidelines, and the Rules and Regulations for the purposes of the Competition; and (ii) the awarding of points and selection of teams that will receive prizes for each phase of the Competition.

GROUNDS FOR JUDGING PANEL DECISIONS

Official decisions made by the Final Round Judging Panel will be approved by a majority of the Judges that vote on such decision after careful consideration of the testing protocols, procedures, guidelines, rules, regulations, criteria, results, and scores set forth in the Master Team Agreement and these Competition Guidelines. If any vote of the Judges results in a tie, then the Judging Panel shall determine, in its sole and absolute discretion, the mechanism to settle the tie. Similarly, if one or more teams are tied at any stage during the competition, the Judging Panel shall have the sole and absolute discretion to settle the tie. 

DECISIONS OF THE JUDGING PANEL ARE FINAL

The Judging Panel shall have sole and absolute discretion: (i) to allocate duties among the Judges; (ii) to determine the degree of accuracy and error rate that is acceptable to the Judging Panel for all competition calculations, measurements, and results, where not specified in the Rules and Regulations; (iii) to determine the methodology used by the Judging Panel to render its decisions; (iv) to declare the winners of the competition; and (v) to award the prize purses and other awards. Decisions of the Judging Panel shall be binding on teams and each team member. Teams agree not to dispute any decision or ruling of the Judging Panel, including decisions regarding the degree of accuracy or error rate of any competition calculations, measurements, and results. Teams shall have no right to observe other teams’ testing or evaluation, or to be informed of other teams’ calculations, measurements, and results, unless such information is made publicly available by GoFly. 

 

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE AND CURRENCY

The official language of the Competition is English. All communications with GoFly must be in English. All references to currency are expressed in United States Dollars (USD).

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Rising From an Aviation Innovation Hub: GoFly Interviews Team Silverwing’s James Murdza and Victor Sonneveld

April 16, 2019, 6 a.m. PDT by GoFly Prize

There must be something in the water at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Home to the team that won the original SpaceX Hyperloop competition in January 2017 with the best overall pod, the university has produced another team of innovators ready to shake up the aviation space. Team Silverwing, one of five winners of Phase II of the GoFly Prize, has built an electric flying motorcycle designed for autonomous flight at speeds topping 60 mph.

Not surprisingly, Delft’s engineering and aerospace departments have become world famous, with faculty and staff involved in a number of high-profile projects. So when Silverwing Team manager James Murdza and technical manager Victor Sonneveld learned about the GoFly Prize and set out to build their device, the S1, the two had plenty of talent to recruit, including a few Hyperloop veterans.

Silverwing is one of the bigger teams to win Phase II of the GoFly Prize. It’s currently made up of about 30 members and counting, including students and professors from 10 different countries with expertise in eight different disciplines across six of the university’s engineering faculties. Despite its size, Silverwing is a tightly-knit family, Murdza says—a family unified in its aim to get their S1 prototype scaled up, fine-tuned and ready for GoFly’s Final Fly-Off in 2020.

Making Mentorship Count

Mentorship has played a critical role for Silverwing, as the team makes a continued effort to consult with university advisors, manufacturers, and GoFly Masters—including Dr. James Wang, senior vice president of Leonardo Helicopters and the former vice president of research and development at AugustaWestland. Known as the “Steve Jobs of Rotorcraft” by those in the industry, Wang has shared his expertise in helicopter design and advised Silverwing on how to design test flights and use different-scaled models to build up to a full-size version.

Meanwhile, when it came time to optimize the propellers for the S1, Silverwing turned directly to their manufacturer for insight. “We knew the company that made them would have the best insight into what would work, so they helped us find the right dimensions of the blades for our device. We’ve been working with manufacturers a lot in this respect, so you could say that they’ve become our advisors as well,” Murdza explains.

Internally, the team is brimming with subject matter experts too, including electrical engineers, industrial designers and aerospace professionals who were instrumental in building Delft’s Hyperloop pod. “There’s a tremendous amount of cross-collaboration and mentorship that takes place within the team, especially because we represent various education levels,” says Murdza.

This diversity of expertise has played a critical role in advancing Silverwing’s design. The suggested introduction of an aerodynamic shell around the pilot, for example, has tremendously reduced drag on the device and improved its performance. Even the orientation of the device has evolved. In its current iteration, the S1 is powered by two ducted fans that enable the device to sit on its tail for take off and landing, but rotate into a more horizontal position for flight. “There’s a lot of little detail tweaks we’ve made as well,” Murdza adds. “Small changes have made a big impact.”

Scaling and Soaring

For Silverwing, Phase II of the GoFly prize was all about testing and analysis. Because one of the Phase II requirements was to log actual flight time, the team was determined to get its half-scale model up in the air as much as possible. Yet even this large team struggled with the amount of time and volume of resources needed to execute successful test flights.

“When you test something for the first time, things break and then not only do you need time to fix them, but you also need new parts. It’s a complicated process,” Sonneveld explains. Still, Silverwing found ways to overcome challenges, tackling one hurdle at a time. “When the batteries we were using were presenting problems, we switched to a cable that made it easier to test flight. It’s all about isolating the problem and solving for it.”

The team also considers itself lucky because so far, things have managed to “work out,” just in the nick of time. But what Sonneveld attributes to luck is more likely the work of tireless perseverance. One “lucky” moment came just before the Phase II deadline when the team was executing a critical test of their new electric motor. Silvering knew they were cutting it close with testing, but logging the flight hours was vital, so they spent 12 hours in a freezing cold F-16 aircraft shelter testing the device—and it was a success. “It was a really tough day but the result was so satisfying. It made it all worth it,” Sonneveld says.

As Silverwing looks ahead to Phase III and the Final Fly-Off, Murdza, Sonneveld and rest of the team are eager to bring their full-size device to life. “It’s one thing to run prototype tests and simulations but to fly the real thing—we can’t wait for that moment,” Murdza says. And once the S1 is realized, the electronic helicopter’s applications will be vast, ranging from disaster response and offshore rescue operations to recreational use. “It will exceed the capabilities of any existing device,” says Murdza. “To fully understand its potential, you have to let your imagination run wild.”


A Body in Motion: GoFly Interviews Team Dragonair’s Mariah Cain

April 9, 2019, 6 a.m. PDT by GoFly Prize

Team Dragonair’s project manager Mariah Cain gained first-hand experience in turning creative spark into tangible projects at a young age, growing up in her grandfather's machine shop. Eventually, she moved out of her small town and began working at a 3D imaging company in Arizona. There, she became interested in Hydroflight, a competitive sport in which athletes maneuver around on water-powered hoverboards connected to jet-skis. It was through their mutual interest in Hydroflight that Cain met her now-teammate Jeff Elkins, who was working to marry the technology behind Hydroflight devices and drones to develop a new class of personal flyers.

Far more than just an enthusiast, Elkins, who has been called a “mad scientist” by his peers, is a drone pilot with extensive engineering experience, having designed everything from prosthetic limbs to architectural renderings. His expertise, along with Cain’s own growing interest in Hydroflight and personal aviation, drove Cain to move down to Florida and get serious about what she once considered just a hobby. There, she started working closely with Elkins and his colleague Ray Brandes on Elkins’ most ambitious project to date—the Airboard, a flying device that gets its power from eight motors and its maneuverability from the human body.

Over time, a true team took shape, complete with a clear vision, engineering prowess and perseverance. But making a flying device is a monumental challenge, not to mention the work that goes into securing funding, gaining industry recognition, and attracting public interest. As project manager, Cain knew she had to find ways to make these critical elements come together—that’s when she heard about the GoFly Prize.   

A Team of Pilots & Engineers

Though the GoFly Prize challenge was issued in September 2017, Cain and her colleagues only learned about the opportunity in April 2018. Having missed the Phase I submissions deadline, Cain, Elkins, and Brandes joined the competition during Phase II, incorporating as team Dragonair and completing their entry just in the nick of time.

Their device—now called the Airboard 2.0—has undergone many iterations even before Dragonair joined GoFly, but the team had to make a number of new key changes to be considered for Phase II. They needed to make their prototype smaller, boost flight time without overloading the device with heavy batteries, and obtain new test parts for their improved model.

Through it all, Cain has played a major role in experimentation, flying the Airboard using her body movements to control it—just take a look at her impressive flight on YouTube. “Many people ask me if it’s scary to fly, but because of all the safety stabilization, it feels natural. It’s exciting to be one of the first women involved in this style of flight. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of such a unique field at such an incredible time in history,” Cain says.

Creating the feeling of freely flying through the air, uninhibited by a massive device, was a big factor in Dragonair’s design process. “The Airboard enables you to interact with the natural world around you. It’s very empowering compared to other technologies that take away from the human connection with nature. The Airboard’s design allows the pilot to feel like they are one with the device, informing its motion by shifting their weight it in a standing position. Once people get a taste of what it’s like to fly these things, they won’t be able to get enough,” Cain says.

Don’t let the team’s focus on pure human flight fool you, though—for Dragonair, safety is a major priority. Already, the device has a mechanism in place where it can continue to fly even if up to four of its eight motors give out. In total, there are three tiers of safety conditions in place to ensure that flights are safe. For example, there will be two separate parachute systems installed (one for the pilot and one for the device).

Making the Inevitable Real

As futuristic as the Airboard may seem, it’s becoming real faster than Dragonair had imagined. Cain and Elkins say that the progression from unmanned drone to personal flyer is inevitable, especially once people can envision all the possible applications of these devices. So how does team Dragonair expect the Airboard to be used? Recreation, of course, will be a big draw. But Cain has loftier ambitions as well: “We need to get more girls on these devices to show the world what women can do,” she says.

She also believes that there’s a great deal of potential when it comes to search and rescue operations.“I recently lost a good friend to a riptide,” she says. “When something like that happens, all these boats and helicopters are dispatched but it’s so hard to find someone when you’re on such an unwieldy vehicle. A smaller device with a spectral camera can make it easier to find people and save lives.”

Personal flyers can even drive change in the agricultural space, where the eradication of harmful plants is currently not done in the most environmentally sound way. Today, aircraft with limited targeting capabilities spray harsh chemicals on massive areas of wildlife, killing not only certain flora but also their surrounding ecosystems. A heavy-lifting drone—manned or unmanned—can execute that task more sustainably simply because it can get lower to the ground and aim more precisely.

“There’s really no limit to how these devices can add efficiency to different industries,” Cain says. “We can’t wait to finally complete the Airboard that we’ve dreamt about for so long and show the world its capabilities.”


From Star Wars to Flying Motorcycles: GoFly Interviews Team Aeroxo’s Vladimir Spinko

April 2, 2019, 6:10 a.m. PDT by GoFly Prize

Vladimir Spinko isn’t the first to dream of a world where the speeder from the famous forest chase scene in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi truly exists—but he is among the first to actually build something resembling it. One of five winners of Phase II of the GoFly Prize, Spinko and his nine fellow members of team Aeroxo have successfully built a working prototype of the ERA Aviabike (which Spinko describes as “a flying motorbike”) and are working towards making a full-size device ready for the GoFly Prize Final Fly-Off, set for early 2020.   

Back in 2007, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology graduate was working at investment firm I2BF Global Ventures as an analyst, handling deal sourcing, assessing technology and performing due diligence. But he wanted to do more than help fund new technology. He wanted to create it.

So, armed with colleague Eldar Razroev’s idea for the first-ever small commercial tiltrotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and an early investment from I2BF’s Ilya Golubovich, Spinko and his tight-knit team co-founded Aeroxo in September 2014.

Drone Meets Driver

Spinko and Aeroxo’s other founding members Golubovich and Razroev got to work immediately, assembling a team of seasoned experts, eager second-year students and other contributors from across Moscow and Kazan who were capable of actualizing the tiltrotor UAV Spinko envisioned. But for about two years, the team struggled to get the device off the ground—literally. It wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that Aeroxo’s Moscow-based engineers executed their first successful test flight, lifting into the air a drone that looked very different from the team’s original design.

“That’s when we learned an important lesson: an ugly drone that can make transitions and fly is much better than a beautiful model that can’t take off,” Spinko says.

By 2017, the team was ready for the public to see their creation. Although they were hesitant to take their drone out of the safety of their lab where equipment and spare parts were at their fingertips, Aeroxo brought it to an exhibition in Austria, where the tiltrotor UAV withstood the test of a 2000km flight. The team knew then that they could take the device to the next level.

“Our first step was to participate in a challenge to create a large passenger drone or aero taxi,” Spinko explains. “Our design made it to the finals, but failed to win. Still, at this point, we had never built anything larger than a 35kg drone. This was our first attempt to build something that could carry a passenger, so this was a big step forward for us.”.

Eventually, the team found itself building a flying passenger vehicle that took on many different forms—a drone taxi capable of carrying several people, a small SUV with motors and rotors capable of driving and flying, and several other designs. But this wasn’t the team’s forté, and Spinko knew it.

“We had never set out to build a flying car,” Spinko recalls. “We had our tiltrotor and that’s where we needed to direct our focus. And then we finally had our breakthrough realization: why can’t a pilot just ride a large tiltrotor?” The team’s aerodynamics expert put together an early sketch of a rideable tiltrotor resembling a motorbike, and the rest is history—or perhaps, the future.

Reaching Industry Recognition

Eager to get their design in front of industry experts from Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and others, Aeroxo prepared to enter the ERA Aviabike into the GoFly Prize, but knew they had to get input from expert users first. The team solicited the input of professional bikers, welcoming their feedback on everything from the driver’s seat design, to the maximum speed and potential cost.

Within days, Aeroxo completely rearranged how a pilot would ride the Aviabike, modified the accessories to make the device more affordable overall, and made other changes based on the suggestions of its target demographic. It was only after that that the team entered GoFly’s Phase I and won, along with nine other promising teams. “The feedback we’ve received from our GoFly mentors has been invaluable,” Spinko says. “For example, they’ve encouraged us to rethink the diameter of our propellers, and we’ve been able to achieve 10 to 12 percent better performance as a result.”

Now a Phase II winner with a working prototype, Aeroxo continues to make improvements and inch closer to a full-size device, but the journey only gets more challenging. Though their signature tiltrotor has gotten them this far, Spinko says that the team is coming to terms with the fact that for a full-size model, the tiltrotor will have to be redesigned. “We’ve gotten some data back from field tests, and we now know that we need to make a number of modifications, including altering and finetuning our wingspan and number of wings, in addition to redesigning the tiltrotor mechanism,” Spinko explains.

GoFly’s size requirement, which states that the maximum single dimension in any direction between two planes cannot exceed 8.5 feet, not including the operator, has been Aeroxo’s greatest challenge thus far, and Spinko anticipates that it will remain the toughest criteria for the team. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised in some ways. Our prototype is virtually silent, for example. It’s 10 to 15 percent quieter than we predicted. But the size — that’s going to be a hurdle,” he says.

Nevertheless, the team is determined to debut the full-scale ERA Aviabike at the GoFly Final Fly-Off. And from there, the possibilities are vast. Whether the device is primarily adopted by the biker community as a recreational vehicle, or becomes a search and rescue staple that helps first responders save stranded climbers in the corners of the Swiss Alps not accessible by helicopter, Aeroxo knows ERA Aviabike will transform transportation. It’s only a matter of time.


Meet the 5 Winners Of GoFly Phase II

March 26, 2019, 7:13 a.m. PDT by GoFly Prize

Congratulations to all of our innovators and teams for completing Phase II of the GoFly challenge! We were incredibly impressed with the technical prowess and creativity of the entries—in fact, we received so many stellar high quality entries that we have added an extra prize, and will now be awarding 5 Phase II Teams with prizes. Each of these teams will receive $50,000 in prizes.

The GoFly community is comprised of more than 3,500 innovators from 101 countries across the globe. Of these innovators, 31 Phase II Teams across 16 countries submitted entries for review by a panel of experts across 2 rounds of rigorous judging. These Phase II teams were required to submit visual and written documentation detailing their personal flyer prototypes. It’s the first time physical prototypes were introduced into the challenge, and this crucial step has brought us ever closer to the Final Fly-Off.

Join us in congratulating our winning teams on their achievements and in thanking our partners and sponsors for their support of the GoFly Prize and our innovators. Major partners include Grand Sponsor Boeing, Corporate Sponsor Pratt & Whitney, and over twenty other major aviation and innovation organizations that offer resources to our competitors and participate in our Masters and Mentors program.

And now, without further ado, meet our Phase II winners (in alphabetical order):

Team Aeroxo | ERA Aviabike, Latvia and Russia

The ERA Aviabike is a tilt-rotor aerial vehicle type that combines the VTOL capabilities of a helicopter with the range and speed of fixed-wing aircraft. ERA Aviabike is a flying bike.

 

Team Dragonair Aviation | Airboard 2.0, United States

The Airboard 2.0 is a multicopter for human flight.

 

Team Silverwing Personal Flight | S1, Netherlands

The SI is a canard-wing configuration around a person in motorcycle-like orientation powered by two electric motors with ducted rotors. The aircraft makes a 90 degree transition from vertical take-off to horizontal cruise flight.

 

Team Texas A&M Harmony | Aria, United States

The Aria is a high-TRL compact rotorcraft designed to minimize noise and maximize efficiency, safety, reliability, and flight experience.

 

Team Trek Aerospace, Inc | FlyKart2, United States

The FlyKart2 is an electric, single-seat, multi-rotor, ducted-fan, VTOL aircraft designed to be inexpensive to build, own, and operate.

 

There is still plenty of time to participate in Phase III and you do not need to have participated in Phase I or Phase II in order to qualify. To learn more, please contact GoFly at phase3@goflyprize.com.


Meet the Teams: Get to Know Team Aviaereo, From Cambridge, United Kingdom

March 19, 2019, 6:10 a.m. PDT by GoFly Prize

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to introduce you to the innovative, bold, and talented individuals competing in GoFly. Our teams come from all over the world, shaped by their diverse backgrounds and unique life experiences. We can’t wait to see what they’ll build, but in the meantime, get to know the people behind the devices.

For Rob Hart, member of Team Aviaereo in Cambridge, UK, the beauty of aviation lies in aircraft design. Though in the early days of his career he had the opportunity to try his hand at different areas of aviation and aircraft production, it was on the design floor, surrounded by drawing boards, where he found his calling.

Today, Hart and his team are working on the Aereo-bee, their entry for the GoFly Prize, in the hopes that personal flyers will one day fill the skies. Read on to get to know more about Hart’s childhood and family, which have shaped his interests and career.

What are your earliest memories associated with aviation?

My earliest memories of flight are building model gliders with my dad when I was a child. Both my older brothers built planes too and we flew them at Cobham Common Flying Club on weekends. My first glider was a cable launch and I remember running through the field, holding the cable and pulling it up into the air.

When did you decide to pursue a career in aviation?

When I took my first job as an engineer’s apprentice, I had already decided that I wanted a career as a designer. They started me out in the sheet metal shop and then from there I worked my way around all the manufacturing facilities, working on composites and electrical as well as in the machine shop and tool room, on the assembly line, and in the test centre. When I finally arrived in the design office, I knew that was where I wanted to be.

We were designing aircraft interiors and in those days it was all done by hand. There were a couple of computers and some CAD workstations, but all of the conceptual work and ideas were created on the drawing boards. That’s when I felt like I had a career as an aerospace engineer—at my drawing board.

Was there someone who inspired your interest in aviation when you were a child? Who did you look up to?

Growing up, my older brothers both built model planes of all kinds: control line, radio-controlled, gliders, helicopters. When my Dad helped me build and fly my first glider, I think perhaps that moment when it first launched up into the air was when I was inspired by him.

What were some of your favorite courses in school? How did they enrich your understanding of aviation?

I studied at Farnborough, which has strong ties with the aerospace industry. There were often chances to learn about aviation history and the developments that were made way back and are still just as relevant today.

What excites you about GoFly?  

The GoFly competition is making it possible for me to build and test-fly my device, the Aereo-bee. That’s what I’m most excited about—building it and seeing the idea become real.

What is your biggest challenge in the GoFly Prize competition currently? How do you plan to overcome it?

I have a full time job and the biggest constraint on me so far has been time. I would really like to expand the team and take on more members. It would be great if someone could do some work on the device graphic, for example. I was really impressed by the graphics submitted in phase I and my team is desperate for someone to improve our graphic.

Our safety assessment also requires a lot of effort, because we need to prepare for the flight readiness review. The document is currently just a shell and we need to rally around it as a team, or introduce an additional team member to coordinate our safety reviews, keep the hazard log up to date, and conduct risk assessments and zonal hazard analysis.

What does the world look like after you create your flying device? How do you think you will change the world?

I imagine the sky will be full of Aereo-bees buzzing around above.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from a mentor?

Measure twice, but cut once. The problem is my mentor never told me which one of the two measurements I should use.


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