Electric air taxis: the future of transportation

 In Vehicles

Flying is a complicated business. It’s also an expensive one (running major airports carries huge costs) but the demand for this service is indeed growing – there are only 40 major airports in the US each one of them serving 100 million passengers a year!

Even passengers can have a hard time flying. Tight schedules, super packed flights and increasing tickets costs are forcing people to look at alternatives when it comes to travel, especially cars.

This situation has encouraged companies to look at potential alternatives for air-travel and Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) looks like is a simple solution.

The idea here is to invest in small local airports (there are 5000 only in the US) to develop an air-taxi network that could work in the same airspace of major airlines, be less expensive to run and have a large variety of routes available for customers.

What’s Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL)

Several major companies are pushing the boundaries even further when it comes to future of flying.

Yes, SATS could be one of the solutions for the problem, but it would still be pretty expensive solution for regular customers and airports would still have to be located outside major cities.

As an answer to these problems corporations are investing significant funds in Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL), essentially a new generation vehicle, similar to helicopters in the way in which they take off and land vertically.

The implementation of this kind of vehicles could have enormous benefits: they could help the decongestion of road networks in big cities, with their medium-range (up to 150 miles) they could support people for journies between large towns and they would also use a hybrid, if not completely green power systems.

Companies developing VTOL aircrafts

Texas-based Bell Helicopter recently revealed the cabin of their self-piloting air taxi which the company is planning to supply to Uber something after 2020.

The company has been very secretive around the technology that will enable this vehicle to fly but, for what we know, the air taxi would take off and land like a helicopter, but it would then fly with wings like a conventional plane.

Another interesting but also very secretive company is the California-based Joby Aviations.

The company recently received an additional $100 million in new from several investors including JetBlue’s and Toyota’s new venture arms.

However, Joby Aviations still won’t share the technology behind its five-seater all-electric passenger plane even if the plane claim to have an excellent 150-mile range and very quiet flying experience including take off.

A company that is less ‘shy’ with its product is undoubtedly Airbus Vahana.

The company recently shared with the public a video of a successful test flight of its electric vertical take-off and landing autonomous drone.

The test was quite short – only 53 seconds but it was extremely important if we think that the vehicle was powered entirely by electricity.

“Our goal is to democratise personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision,” blogged Zach Lovering, Vahana project executive.

The future of VTOL

The technology for air taxis is still very much in its infancy and there many issues that this new way of travel will have to face before it can become a reality such noise and overall travel experience, safety issues and, of course, price.

However, this is undoubtedly an exciting time for the industry which it is been pushed continuously towards more sustainable and green ways of travel.

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