Bell Helicopters outlines the future of helicopters with their new concept named the FCX-001: A hybrid helicopter with virtual controls and artificial intelligence.
The concept helicopter was unveiled at the Heli-Expo in Dallas, where Bell Helicopter demonstrated their version of the future for helicopters.
The FCX-001 is the company’s first full-scale concept and is intended to be a proof of concept, to how a helicopter can be safer, smarter and more efficient.
“Six months ago, we put together a team to focus on new technology and how we can incorporate it into our products,”
– Mitch Snyder, CEO of Bell.
So what’s new with the FCX-001? The concept includes a new type of anti-torque system, which means that the helicopter function without starters. This will provide higher safety and lower noise levels.
Furthermore, the FCX-001 has a modular rotor blade. This would enable the helicopter to optimize performance in different flight conditions.
It may look futuristic on the outside, but certainly also on the inside, with a very futuristic and scaled off interior design. For example, the pilot has no traditional instruments or levers to use. Instead, everything is virtual and when the pilot is tired of steering – it’s possible to hand the controls over to the ‘second pilot’, which is a form of artificial intelligence.
“Being a pioneer in the aviation industry lies in our DNA. The FCX-001 points out our future and shows a renewed focus on innovations and technologies. When time is right, we will reveal more of what we are doing behind closed doors”
– Snyder said.
The concept aircraft is built to address evolving demands of customers and demonstrate key technologies that revolutionize the pilot and passenger experience, according to Bell, these key technologies include:
- A new anti-torque system in the tail boom designed to change the safety, noise and performance parameters of vertical lift aircraft forever.
- Hybridized propulsion combines advanced thermal engine cores for the main propulsion with, for example, electric distribution and motors to drive the anti-torque system for more control and simpler vehicle operations and maintenance.
- An airframe that is made from advanced sustainable materials to provide structural performance and offer configurations that our customers desire. In order to provide enhanced situational awareness, visibility and room, we are exploring the right combination of material and geometry. The airframe is also our front line for energy management where we harvest, store, attenuate and distribute external energy or system energy not already employed for useful work on the air vehicle.
- A landing gear with non-traditional geometries that facilitate function when combined with advanced materials and actuation.
- Morphing rotor blades that allow aircraft to optimize performance in different flight regimes.
- A single pilot seat and an entirely new flight deck experience with the pilot controlling the aircraft through augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system.
- A highly modular passenger cabin enhanced with the same augmented reality technology for individualized infotainment to catch up on world news, hold a video conference call, share documents with other passengers or simply watch a movie or play music to relax.
Click here to see the unveiling of FCX-001 at the Heli-Expo 2017 in Dallas, Texas.