When Aerospace giants like Boeing and Airbus reveal some ambitious concept for the future of urban aerial transport, most showcase electrically powered variations on multicopters and hybrid aircraft, sketched out with familiar components like rotors and wings.
But the Russian engineers have another idea entirely. Known as a cyclogiro, cyclorotor, cyclocopter, or as some have called it an “egg-beater wing,” this aerial machine is the most exotic and ambitious vision yet.
A cyclocopter is driven by cylindrical, rotating wings, each with many small paddles or winglets. The direction of thrust can be changed rapidly by altering the angle of the winglets. The cyclocopter combines vertical take-off and landing with efficient forward flight and good maneuverability. At least, in theory.
Russia says its exotic air vehicle will beat anything the West, but many of the nation’s military boasts turn out to be vaporware, so could this crazy-looking contraption actually fly?
Russia’s Advanced Research Foundation, a military research organization analogous to the U.S. defense research firm DARPA, carried out a year-long project to find the best configuration to carry 220 to 2,200 pounds, including passengers. They concluded a cyclocopter gives the best aerodynamic performance, so now they’re building one—and they’re not alone.
It’s an idea that traces back more than a century into aviation history and is finding a second life with engineers around the world.
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