Science fiction has been stinging the idea of car-laying cars for decades, but in reality they were nothing more than a concept. This is starting to change as companies around the world work to make personal air travel possible. As VTOL (VEE'-toll), short for vertical take-off and landing, these vehicles will already be in the sky for the next decades.
Of course, nobody is prepared to fly cars. There is no infrastructure to support them, and regulations are required to regulate their use (like personal drones, but a thousand times worse). They will not find the first commercial VTOLs at a dealership, instead taxis are being built to move people from one part of the city to another.
So who is working to make science fiction a reality? Let's take a look.
Of all VTOL taxi projects, Uber's is the largest ever. The company is targeting the year 2023, when the company will be commercially available for the first time, but next year the first Uber Air taxis can be seen.
Uber & # 39; s had air traffic already in sight in 2016, and committed it last year. The planned skills look like a modern, miniaturized version of a turboprop aircraft, but with one key difference: they will take off and land giant skyports that are placed across the country cities they serve. Each aircraft with a pilot and four passengers on board can reach a speed of 150 km / h and a range of about 60 miles without reserve power and is fully powered by electricity using an automated system (although the pilot can take control) case of a problem).
Even taking into account the footprints of the massive skyports that are required to reach this scale (Uber anticipates 1,000 landings per hour), Uber knocks top architects to design densely spaced structures on such small plots 1 – 2 acres ,
Uber's expansion is important because it gives us a good overview of the challenges that arise with the introduction of flying cars around the world. For example, personal VTOLs simply do not work reliably in a city with a lot of inclement weather. Therefore, Uber is restricted to choosing cities with very mild conditions and little rain as well as cities with the correct shape and subway areas for safety reasons. Uber also needs real estate partners and friendly governments to work through all the related regulations. Because Uber's ideal taxis are electric in nature, the company needs a very reliable, scalable power grid to work with. These requirements add up quickly and show how much work these flying car companies have in front of them.
Prototype of AeroMobil
AeroMobil from Slovakia wants to build a functioning flying car. They're on their fourth prototype, so you know they're not kidding. All prototypes are known as "AeroMobil" and the first of the cars should be delivered to private owners in 2020.
The company has numerous conceptual drawings to show how the car would function in its final form. It's one of the more remarkable "hybrid models," and we're not talking about fuel here. Unlike real VTOLs, hybrid flying cars are often designed to take off from runways for flight, but they can also return to a more car-like form on which they can drive on roads. As you can see, this requires both retractable wheels and wings and a very efficient fuel system. AeroMobil hopes it can create a working electronic model. The company has partnered with major organizations including Starburst, an accelerator for the aerospace industry, to bring the car to market as quickly as possible.
Vahana project of Airbus is looking for an electrical system for VTOL aircraft that are fully self-piloting. The autopilot model offers many advantages. In hiring and training pilots (who usually expect a higher salary than a taxi driver), costs can be saved. Software engineers already have a lot of experience in creating an autopilot system for larger aircraft that can be applied to these VTOLs. It is also an ideal way to operate a taxi service, as the cars can automatically return to the centers or choose a different route due to ongoing orders.
In early 2018, the Vahana prototype had its first successful full flight test. It was not much – the 20-foot plane simply rose 16 feet into the air and stayed there for 53 seconds. However, this was done completely with autopilot technology. Airbus has since completed around 50 test flights and says it's on its way to a debut in 2020.
Kitty Hawk flies prototype
Kitty Hawk boss Sebastian Thrun claims that flying We have already sold his latest prototype "as easy to use as Minecraft". This also means that currently no pilot license for the operation of the pilot is required. The latest prototype, appropriately called "Flyer", is a 250-pound model developed by the startup to showcase its ultra-lightweight design. Kitty Hawk, founded by Thurn and Google cofounder Larry Page, plans to create both a personal flying machine, which is largely intended for off-road fun (ultralight vehicles like these can not legally fly over urban areas), and an air taxi for more urban environments. The small, drone-style personal flyer is promising for anyone looking for a quick and dirty flying experience, but so far only available for test flights at a lakeside training center.
The Volocopter design is ambitious and looks really cool. The mini-copter is designed for personal flight and has 18 rotors, which are controlled by a single joystick and powered by electric batteries. We would say this is not very practical, but then they went on stage and ran it at CES 2018 thanks to a small sponsor from Intel.
The 2X can carry two passengers and has a flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 17 miles between the loading centers. Intel's project work involves complex technologies, including four independent sensor units to control positioning, nine different electric battery packs with built-in redundancies, and even a parachute stowed on the vehicle in case something goes wrong. No wonder Volocopter is Dubai's newest choice for its upcoming Air Taxi fleet (although Dubai has already dropped other prototypes in the past, this is not a guaranteed deal.)
The SureFly is a rugged VTOL designed for commercial services and residential customers looking for a permanent, self-directed flight experience worth $ 200,000 per unit. And it's not just a conceptual model: Interested buyers can already purchase a $ 1,000 refundable deposit for the first commercially available models. A release date is not yet known because the Federal Aviation Administration must certify the SureFly before the sale, which can take up to two years.
The Surefly has eight propellers and a top speed of 75 mph. While unlike other VTOLs is powered by gasoline, a battery pack provides an additional 10 minutes of flight time if required. The first version will be able to carry about 400 pounds of cargo, although a heavier version capable of carrying up to 650 pounds is in development.
Another goal of Workhorse is to easily control SureFly, which makes SureFly easier. Therefore, most controls are automated. There are only two controls on the plane: a joystick to control the direction and a throttle control on the pilot's door.
From the Canadian designer opener BlackFly is a hugely distinctive VTOL that combines personal control with a wealth of automatic features, including automatic landing and automatic return to Home so that a flight without formal licensing is possible (a popular trend, as you may have noticed). Despite the design BlackFly flies with a known method. Eight drone-like rotors are arranged over two wings. However, the launch is a bit more unique as the VTOL is moved back and forth to literally gain momentum and start up. The specifications allow a long range of 40 miles at 7 km / h, although the number of people who want to use their own aircraft is severely limited by the regulations.
What makes it so special is the promise of affordability and availability: the company strives for it This year, the first craft is being launched at about the same cost as an SUV. We'll see if they can do that.
With Retractable Wings and Wheels the Transition is another hybrid vehicle that converts between road and sky as needed. But not only in this way is transition a true hybrid model. It also uses a combination of gas and electric motors to power the model, and a boost mode for extra speed boost when flying (which sounds a little dangerous to us, but what do we know). In the past, the transition was expected to eventually sell at $ 280,000, but these days the company is foregoing a list price.
When the Ehang 184 first appeared at CES A few years ago, it seemed quite impossible – a personal quadcopter VTOL that was fully automated, completely safe, totally comfortable, and over one Powered by a simple touchscreen interface that anyone can use. Honestly, it all seemed so much, with a series of claims that could not really be substantiated. Today, Ehang is still making pretty crazy claims. For example, it is hard to believe that the company has tested its model more than a thousand times in all sorts of situations (including Stormwind, 500 pounds more weight, etc.), they claim – the only test material available is decidedly more pedestrian. After all, this kind of thing has happened before.
Other details, however, suggest that some versions of the Ehang 184 will be up and running. Ehang has stated that each taxi will have a command center that automatically shuts off the flying car in bad weather conditions and that the models are designed primarily for U-shapes from one port to another, which other prototypes are capable of.
On the other hand, in May 2018, Ehang filed for US bankruptcy protection. The move was labeled as "strategic" and the company is still operational, but it does not create trust.
Joby Aviation Air Taxi
After working on personal aircraft for years, Joby Aviation recently received a massive money-grab from Toyota and Intel places 100 Millions of dollars ready to set up an electric air taxi. This model is interesting because it is larger than many projects (with up to five seats), and although it is referred to as VTOL, the model seems to be based on a more traditional aircraft with multiple propellers, which raises many questions as in the Practice will work. We hope to see a real prototype soon.