Why hover?

In the world of flight, there are many categories: hot-air balloons and hang gliders, jetpacks and flyboards, and others. The two we will discuss today are fixed-wing aircraft (think of the last commercial flight you took) and rotary-wing aircraft (i.e. helicopters... and now LIFT.)

Conventional planes, like birds, can soar, but not hover.

Fixed wing aircraft soar like birds and are highly efficient over distance. They also have intrinsic redundancy. On many fixed-wing aircraft, should the engine(s) fail, the craft becomes a glider (or it has additional engines). Many (a 4-seater Cessna, for example) can still be flown without batteries or electricity in this case, similar to the Wright brothers' Wright Flyer. But they cannot hover. To stay aloft, they must continue moving through the air. Ordinarily, this isn't a huge issue, but in a city, it could prove challenging. More on that later.

Helicopters have the incredible ability to hover.

Rotary-wing aircraft are a little more complicated, but they possess the ability to stop mid-flight and hover. This is a tremendous advantage for multiple reasons. What if the pilot wants to reverse course quickly? Or survey a site? What about ascent or descent in place? All of this is possible with rotary-wing aircraft. Add that to the fact that they don't need long runways, and we've got a winning combination. Or so one might think.

In the past, however, helicopters have been costly and present greater risk; they cannot remain airborne for as long without their engine (many have only one). In engineering, the term is single-point-of-failure. This is frightening - because it is exactly what it sounds like - a lack of redundancy. Drones do the opposite. Through a combination of incredibly sophisticated software and highly efficient motors, drones achieve flight capable of all of the above, all while reducing single points of failure. Simply put, drones have extra motors.

HEXA airborne in Texas.

Our aircraft, HEXA, mirrors the motion of helicopters using the best of this new technology. We achieve maneuverability, hover, and agility through our multi-rotor (read: multiple propellers facing down) design. This design is capable of losing multiple motors and maintaining flight control. We're always looking for ways to increase redundancy. Should one element falter, we have another and another after that. Flying is better with options.

On a shorter flight, the flexibility and agility that hovering offers is essential. While we will begin flying in non-congested areas, we envision a future where aircraft like HEXA fly in cities, replete with buildings and other obstacles. A bird can fly, yes. But it can't stop moving. It can't hover. We would rather float like a butterfly: capable of hovering and maneuvering in 3 dimensions at will.