Students test self-flying vehicle for Boeing's 'GoFly' competition at Moffett Field

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Students test self-flying vehicle for South Bay competition
Students from the Netherlands are gearing up for Boeing's 'GoFly' competition at Moffett Field by testing their self-flying vehicle at Byron Airport in Contra Costa County.

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A decade ago, the talk of self-driving cars sounded like a fairytale.

Some hinted self-flying vehicles would be next.

And now, a crop of flying vehicles are ready for take-off.

"So, we basically took what's best about the helicopter, vertical take-off and landing, and what's best about the airplane, the horizontal cruising, and we put it into one package," explains Ivan Kalkman, an engineering student.

Kalkman is one of a group of 35 students from TU Delft in the Netherlands, who are finalists in this week's Boeing GoFly international competition at Moffett Field. It is first of its kind for personal flying devices, with $2 million dollars in cash prizes.

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The UT Delft team is the only student group to qualify. They spent the morning at the Byron Airport, conducting another round of testing before the start of the competition.

The S-1 is designed for a pilot to be in the vehicle's shell, or cockpit, although nobody will be onboard the S-1 for this competition.

"It is very similar to a motorcycle," says Kalkman. "So, you are in the sports motorcycle position. When you take-off, your face is pointed to the sky."

The team spent the past two years designing and building the S-1 aircraft from scratch, determining how much power is needed for take-offs and landing, and crafting the mechanics to keep the aircraft afloat and stable in the air.

"The exciting thing is you draw something on paper and then you start building it, and then it comes out and looks like this. It already looks very sleek in my opinion," says Ralph Krook, who works on the aircraft's flight control system.

The aircraft can take-off from just about anywhere. It's designed to reach speeds of 70 miles an hour and powered by green technology.

"First of all, we are using batteries, so it's electric. And we are pushing to moving (away) from gas," explains engineering student Teresa Blanco, who is from Spain.

"What this does or enables you to do is to leave your car at home and fly to wherever you need to be. That gives a whole new dimension to our daily commute," says Kalkman. "This could pretty much land in the size of a regular parking space, and it doesn't even need to be paved."

Flying vehicles are likely more than a decade away from being available to the public. But these students say they are excited to be part of the future of transportation.

"It would be awesome to see one of these aircrafts in the future carrying an actual payload or people, of course, across cities. That would be a dream come true," says Krook.