In 2019, Hector (Haofeng) Xu, a PhD student in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, decided to learn to fly helicopters after having a couple of nerve-wracking experiences. This led to the founding of the autonomous helicopter company Rotor Technologies, Inc. Xu aimed to make helicopter flight safer and reduce fatalities from small aircraft accidents. Rotor is retrofitting existing helicopters with sensors and software to automate the most dangerous flights, making aviation safer and more accessible.
Developing Advanced Technology
Rotor’s autonomous helicopters can fly faster, longer, and carry heavier payloads than battery powered drones. The company worked with a reliable helicopter model to commercialize quickly. Employing advanced communication tools and sensors, Rotor equips its helicopters with a “fly by wire” system and remote pilot paradigm. The startup offers 24/7 monitoring of flights with a cloud-based human supervision system for added safety.
The R550X, Rotor’s autonomous aircraft, can carry loads up to 1,212 pounds, travel at speeds of over 120 miles per hour, and has extended flying times. The company aims to sell a small number of aircraft this year and eventually produce 50 to 100 aircraft annually. Looking to the future, Rotor hopes to influence the way people travel by making vertical take-off and-landing aircraft more autonomous.
Hector Xu and his team at Rotor are working to create a safer and more accessible future for aviation. With their focus on autonomy and leveraging advanced technology, they are set to revolutionize the future of vertical flight.