Born out of a dream to avoid traffic jams, Workhorse CEO Steve Burns has built an electric helicopter. The Loveland company known for its electric delivery trucks will show off its personal flying machine at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Burns says a gas motor generates the electricity on the two person $200,000 drone and a joystick flies it. Safeguards include a lithium battery back-up and a parachute attached to the machine if everything else fails. Burns says it's designed to "not fall out of the sky."
"This integrates the lightweight carbon fiber that we're putting all over cars. This incorporates our generator technology, our battery technology, a drone that can carry a cargo," according to Burns.
He anticipates the personal flying machine will be ready for sale in 2019.
Testing of a delivery truck drone to begin in Loveland
Burns has permission from the FAA and the City of Loveland to test a truck which utilizes a drone to deliver packages. This could happen during the holiday season or right after. The eighteen pound drone takes off from the top of the truck.
"The truck has infrared beacons shooting up," he says. "The satellite, which is good for a couple of feet of accuracy, it gets it close and then it locks on these beacons and then it brings itself down. We've even worked on the next generation, the truck can even be moving. So, imagine, a truck going down the street with drones jumping off."
Workhorse has also designed what it says is "the first electric truck and delivery van."
They will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show. Business Development Manager John Lafleur says the company has 6,000 pre-orders from Duke Energy, the City of Orlando and others. Those vehicles will be manufactured in Union City, Indiana.
The biggest deal Workhorse is hoping to get is the contract to replace the entire fleet of trucks for the United States Post Office. It is one of five companies still in the running for the $7 billion deal.