The start-up incubator (Start-up Promotion Center) at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI: University of Italian Switzerland) in Lugano has developed a new, highly promising approach. Ierom SA, a company owned by the Italian vertical flight visionary Felice Vinati has taken up residence at the USI campus. Ierom developed the innovative electric helicopter F-Helix that is able to fly even in dark and foggy conditions.
Moreover, Ierom has also landed at “Il Litorale”, a USI initiative set up in the heart of Lugano that helps to promote the mutual interests of and collaboration between the worlds of academia and business. Here, Vinati stumbled upon an ideal framework to interact with the stakeholders active in the regional and cross-regional innovation ecosystem, as detailed in a press release issued by Il Litorale.
The innovative potential of the F-Helix lies not so much in the concept of a self-rotating or electrically propelled aircraft, for there are already similar models in existence. Rather, the special feature of this helicopter is down to the increased capacity for auto-rotation and, above all, in the source of electric power, which comes from hydrogen batteries. These are not only much more lightweight than lithium batteries, but are also much more environmentally friendly. The F-Helix produces no emissions and requires a much-reduced overall volume of energy during the production, consumption and disposal processes. The concept was devised in collaboration with the Vertical Lift Research Centre of Excellence at Pennsylvania State University.
However, the F-Helix above all stands out on account of its automated pilot system. It uses 3D technology and algorithms. Vinati comments in the press release that, in fact, not only can this automated pilot system be used manually, it can also fly at times when visibility is reduced or even non-existent thanks to the patented iTOWER system and the WITP system, which remains under development. He then explains further that it is the latter system that will allow rescue missions to be conducted under poor or even zero visibility conditions, which is not something that is yet possible today. Attention will now turn to the construction of a prototype.