If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing the days of flying taxis and personal flying cars, hang in there – they are well underway. No doubt they’ll be even more exhilarating than a bullet train.
In fact, some implementation has already begun with skyports and test runs in some major cities worldwide. Before we dive in, let’s get a couple of acronyms out of the way.
First, there’s VTOL, which means “vertical take-off and landing.” There is usually a little “e” in front (eVTOL) as all of these futuristic aircraft will run on electricity.
Next comes the Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV). These are cool because you can fly these small crafts without a pilot’s license. More on that in a minute.
Lastly, we’ll take note of the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV). Kinda like calling an Uber ride, then you take to the skies – with no driver, it’s all autonomous.
You’d better believe there are lots of players scrambling for their share of this urban aircraft market.
This may be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040, according to a Morgan Stanley Research study.
Jetsetty takes a look at our top 5 innovators pushing the limit and taking us up, up, and away!
Drones have already been evolving to carry heavier loads (like people), but Uber took the first big leap with their Uber Elevate conference in 2017 with the goal of getting serious with all this.
Uber might not have invented the flying taxi, but they sure got things moving with this annual conference. Per their website;
The Uber Elevate team is working toward transforming the world through aerial ridesharing at scale. Imagine soaring above congested ground traffic. With Uber Air, this future is closer than you think.
Uber is developing shared air transportation—planned for 2023—between suburbs and cities, and ultimately within cities.
We’re working with our Elevate Network partners to launch fleets of small, electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, our first international market.
The electrically powered PAV built in collaboration with Hyundai and Uber will have the capability of carrying four passengers on trips of up to 60 miles at speeds reaching 180 mph.
They will be able to cruise at altitudes up to 2,000 ft. Hyundai said the all-electric craft could be recharged in minutes, they claim.
Partnering with big companies like Hyundai and Boeing, it won’t be long before we’re using the Uber Air app to get around town.
Joby Aviation is a venture-backed aerospace company and developer of VTOL personal air vehicles designed for air taxi services.
Toyota said it is investing $394 million into Silicon Valley-based Joby Aviation, which is developing a piloted all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi.
This will help Joby launch an electric air-taxi service by 2023 and gives the company access to Toyota’s prowess in manufacturing, quality, and cost control.
It takes a lot of muscle to put a taxi in the sky and with Toyota’s backing, we’re sure to hear more from this aerospace company.
Courtesy Joby Aviation
eHang seems to have cornered the market on “adorable and autonomous.” We’re cheering on these 2-people electric autonomous aerial vehicles (okay, another acronym – AAV) because who wouldn’t want to see these flying around when you look up?
Per their website;
Superior to the traditional manned aircraft, the technology design concept of EHang AAV follows three philosophies:
Full redundancy to ensure security, autonomous pilot, and cluster control of the intelligent command and control center.
This eco-friendly and intelligent low-altitude passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicle provides a low-altitude short-and-medium-haul transportation solution for future intelligent transportation.
We’ve had our eye on this too “cool for school” flying craft for a while now, and they seem to be the darling of the PAV world. Of course, this is evolving so quickly a new star could rise out of nowhere but Blackfly still captures our imagination like no other PAV.
Although Blackfly can only carry one person at this time, you do not need a pilot’s license to fly one in the USA.
They do require that all operators successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete the company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training. Makes sense to us.
Because of its design, it can pretty much land anywhere – grass, asphalt, snow, or ice. It also disassembles and fits into a small trailer so you can head to the country and really experience the Jetsetty life. In fact, you can go from the trailer to the sky in just 30 minutes.
If you’re smaller than 6 ft, 6 inches, and around 200 pounds or under, you’re good to go to cruise at 62 MPH for about 25 miles. For safety, there’s a ballistic parachute among other features.
German air taxi startup Volocopter is another heavy-hitter in the VTOL world, and they are also designing the really cool skyports we’ll need in order to board our point-to-point flights.
They call these the Voloports. We have a feeling these will be as welcoming as our top luxury airport lounges.
They are well-funded by Geely, the Chinese parent company of Volvo Cars as well as Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. The new funds will be put toward achieving Volocopter’s goal of launching a commercial air taxi service powered by its 18-rotor electric aircraft “within the next three years.”
The company envisions a network of rooftop “Volo-ports” where up to 1,000 passengers could board and disembark their own personal “flying taxi” every hour. That translates to 10,000 passengers per station per day, the company says.
If you’re not afraid of heights, then the upcoming wave of eVTOL taxis and PAVs will add some new and amazing experiences to your life!
© 2017 The Foreign Office Collective.