Your Solo in the Sky
Aria is the first rotorcraft designed for quiet and efficient flight from day 1. The vehicle occupies less space than a sedan and can carry 200 lb. (91 kg) of payload for 20 mi. (32 km) on a single charge of its high energy/high power battery.
Aria’s footprint is less than 8.5 ft. (2.6 m), and you can almost halve the footprint by folding the rotorblades. This means you can easily store Aria in a garage, and you can fly it into dense urban areas and park on the streets or roof-top garage—not a runway.
We designed Aria around a quiet signature from the very first brainstorming design session. Therefore, our design does not produce the annoying bzzzz of “giant quadcopter” or “drone” designs pursued by other teams.
In fact, acoustic testing at the Texas A&M RELLIS campus showed that Aria produces 1/5th the noise of a multi-rotor design of the same size and takeoff weight.
Standing by the garage in the image below, you would hear less noise from an Aria taking off 80 ft. (25 m) away than a hairdryer next to your ear! That’s incredible for a vehicle that weighs more than 500 lb. (227 kg)!
Unlike the dozens of other personal air vehicle designs that depend on many small, unproven, and thermally-sensitive electric motors, Aria can be easily modified to run off one or two FAA-certified gasoline engines. A gasoline powertrain would increase Aria’s range beyond 150 miles (240 km), and enable fueling on existing infrastructure.
Aria in the GoFly Prize
From a pool of more than 3,500 competitors worldwide, our design was 1 of 10 Phase I “Early Design” winners selected by Boeing in spring 2019. Other winners included teams from Georgia Tech and Delft University of the Netherlands as well as aerospace startups from the US, Europe, and Russia. Each team received $20,000 to kickstart development of some sort of prototype.
This spring, we were 1 of 5 Phase II “Early Build” winners selected by Boeing to win $50,000 towards continued development of our prototype. We were the only US university team to win this second round.
For Phase II, we built a 1/3rd scale model to validate our aerodynamic and acoustic predictions, and we were 1 of 2 teams to demonstrate controlled forward flight of our proposed design using this scale model (video below).
We are now finalizing designs and raising money to build a full-scale technology demonstrator for the Phase III “Final Fly-off” in spring 2020.