Electric powered taxis could be picking people up in 4 years

September 12, 2018

Electric-powered taxis that can fly at almost 200mph (320kmh) could be picking up passengers in just four years, according to a British firm. 

 

The inter-city 'flying taxi' service could offer short-haul, inter-city flights carrying multiple passengers using piloted aircraft, according to the founder of Bristol-based flying company Vertical Aerospace.

 

Since its inception in 2016, the firm has hired 28 veteran aerospace and technical experts from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and General Electric.

 

Founder Stephen Fitzpatrick, who is a one-time Formula 1 racing team owner,  said his new venture will apply lessons from F1 racing to build the electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

 

Founder Stephen Fitzpatrick, who is a one-time Formula 1 racing team owner, said his new venture will apply lessons from F1 racing to build the electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft

 

The inter-city 'flying taxi' service could offer short-haul, inter-city flights carrying multiple passengers using piloted aircraft, according to the founder of Bristol-based flying company Vertical Aerospace

 

The battery-powered vehicle has a range of 93 miles (150km) with a top speed of 186mph (300kmh), with a more powerful model set to carry people 500 miles (800 km), which means it could easily take passengers to Paris and back.

 

The firm conducted a test flight of an unmanned, single-passenger vertical take-off prototype at an airport in Gloucestershire in June.

 

It did this after being granted flight permission by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

The company is the first in the UK to test an eVTOL vehicle that could be used in some of the most congested air corridors in the world as it doesn't require a runway.

 

'If you consider that the busiest routes flying in and out of London are to Paris, Dublin and Edinburgh, being able to fly to those cities without the need of a runway would offset the need to expand Heathrow', Mr Fitzpatrick told The Times.

 

'Passengers will be taking off from locations very close to their homes or businesses and landing very close to the point of their destination rather than having to travel to an airport 40 to 50 miles outside the city', he said. 

 

The black passenger pod is now gearing up to produce a fixed-wing, piloted version of its vertical take-off aircraft capable of carrying multiple passengers. 

 

It will work with regulators to win certification in the first stage of the air taxi project in 2022, representatives from the firm said.

 

'If you consider that the busiest routes flying in and out of London are to Paris, Dublin and Edinburgh, being able to fly to those cities without the need of a runway would offset the need to expand Heathrow', Mr Fitzpatrick told The Times

 

The battery-powered vehicle has a range of 93 miles (150km) with a top speed of 186mph (300kmh)

 

A more powerful model set to carry people 500 miles (800 km), which means it could easily take passengers to Paris and back

 

Ovo now counts around 680,000 customers, or 2.5 per cent of the UK domestic retail energy market and employs 1,200 staff. Pictured is the air taxi 

 

WHAT IS VERTICAL AEROSPACE'S ELECTRIC-POWERED TAXI?

The inter-city 'flying taxi' service could offer short-haul, inter-city flights carrying multiple passengers using piloted aircraft within four years, according to Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder of Bristol-based flying company Vertical Aerospace.

 

Since its inception in 2016, the firm has hired 28 veteran aerospace and technical experts from Airbus, Boeing , Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and General Electric.

 

The firm has conducted a test flight of an unmanned, single-passenger vertical take-off prototype at an airport in Gloucestershire in June.

 

It did this after being granted flight permission by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

 

The company is the first in the UK to test electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles which could potentially revolutionise short-haul flying.

 

The electric-powered aircraft could be used in some of the most congested air corridors in the world as it doesn't require a runway.

 

The black passenger pod is now gearing up to produce a fixed-wing, piloted version of its vertical take-off aircraft capable of carrying multiple passengers.

 

It has a range of 93 miles (150km) with a top speed of 186mph (300kmh), with a more powerful model set to carry people 500 miles (800 km), which means it could easily take passengers to Paris and back.

It will work with regulators to win certification in the first stage of the air taxi project through 2022, representatives from the firm said.

 

In a later stage, the company will seek to extend the aircraft's range, introduce elements of autonomous flight and expand the number of chartered routes it can serve. 

 

'We are investing in all the technology evolution taking place in aerospace but we are trying to apply that to something that's real world and is possible to execute four years out,' said Mr Fitzpatrick, the Vertical Aerospace founder and chief executive.

 

'We are not waiting for huge changes in existing regulations', said Mr Fitzpatrick who believes the vehicle could be hailed using a smartphone. 

 

Competitors working toward launching autonomous flying cars range from aerospace giant Airbus to Uber.

 

It currently has a range of 93 miles (150km) with a more powerful model set to carry people 500 miles (800 km) (pictured) 

 

 The firm conducted a test flight of an unmanned, single-passenger vertical take-off prototype at an airport in Gloucestershire in June

 

It did this after being granted flight permission by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

 

The company is the first in the UK to test an eVTOL vehicle that could be used in some of the most congested air corridors in the world as it doesn't require a runway

 

Electric-powered taxis that can fly at almost 200mph (320kmh) could be picking up passengers in just four years, according to a British firm

 

'Passengers will be taking off from locations very close to their homes or businesses and landing very close to the point of their destination rather than having to travel to an airport 40 to 50 miles outside the city', he said 

 

Belfast-born Mr Fitzpatrick prides himself on developing business ideas in areas where, at the outset, he has zero technical background 

 

German start-up Volocopter is testing drone taxis that resemble small helicopters powered by 18 rotors.

Several of these projects envision services that can be ordered up, on-demand, via smartphones, from skyhubs in city centres.

 

Belfast-born Mr Fitzpatrick prides himself on developing business ideas in areas where, at the outset, he has zero technical background.

 

He said he spent years studying energy markets before launching his energy utility firm, Ovo, in 2009. 

It now counts around 680,000 customers, or 2.5 per cent of the UK domestic retail energy market and employs 1,200 staff.

 

 He said he spent years studying energy markets before launching his energy utility firm, Ovo, in 2009. Pictured is his latest venture

 

Since its inception in 2016, the firm has hired 28 veteran aerospace and technical experts from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and General Electric

 

His first brush with hardware and physical product engineering came when he was a short-term owner of flagging Formula 1 team Manor Racing

 

Mr Fitzpatrick said it dawned on him that many racing car advances also applied to aircraft, from high-powered electric batteries to hybrid power trains, lighter structural materials, like carbon fibre and, of course, aerodynamic design

 

The technology we were using in Formula 1 was just too high-spec to be applied to the challenges of the typical road car,' Mr Fitzpatrick said, so he applied it to his flying car 

 

His first brush with hardware and physical product engineering came when he was a short-term owner of flagging Formula 1 team Manor Racing.

 

Mr Fitzpatrick said it dawned on him that many racing car advances also applied to aircraft, from high-powered electric batteries to hybrid power trains, lighter structural materials, like carbon fibre and, of course, aerodynamic design.

 

'The technology we were using in Formula 1 was just too high-spec to be applied to the challenges of the typical road car,' Mr Fitzpatrick said.

 

'What you can get from an F1 engine has more power density per kilo than a jet turbine,' he said. 

 

WHAT TYPE OF FLYING TAXIS COULD WE EXPECT TO SEE IN THE FUTURE?

Advances in electric motors, battery technology and autonomous software has triggered an explosion in the field of electric air taxis.

 

Larry Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet , has poured millions into aviation start-ups Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, which are both striving to create all-electric flying cabs.

 

Kitty Hawk is believed to be developing a flying car and has already filed more than a dozen different aircraft registrations with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.

 

Page, who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin back in 1998, has personally invested $100 million (£70 million) into the two companies, which have yet to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate their technology.

 

Secretive start-up Joby Aviation has come a step closer to making its flying taxi a reality.

 

The California-based company, which is building an all-electric flying taxi capable of vertical take-off, has received $100 million (£70 million) in funding from a group of investors led by Toyota and Intel.

 

The money will be used to develop the firm’s 'megadrone' which can reach speeds of 200mph (321kph) powered by lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide batteries.

 

The Joby S2 prototype has 16 electric propellers, 12 of which are designed for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), which means no runway is needed.

 

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018. Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing

 

The aircraft takes off vertically, like a helicopter, before folding away 12 of its propellers so it can glide like a plane once it is airborne.  

 

Airbus is also hard at work on a similar idea, with its latest Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completing its maiden test flight in February 2018.

 

The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds.

 

Airbus previously shared a well-produced concept video, showcasing its vision for Project Vahana.

 

The footage reveals a sleek self-flying aircraft that seats one passenger under a canopy that retracts in similar way to a motorcycle helmet visor.

 

Airbus Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completed its maiden test flight in February 2018. The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds

 

Like Joby Aviation, Project Vahana is designed to be all-electric and take-off and land vertically.

AirSpaceX is another company with ambitions to take commuters to the skies.

 

The Detroit-based start-up has promised to deploy 2,500 aircrafts in the 50 largest cities in the United States by 2026.

 

AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018.

 

Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing.

 

AirSpaceX has even included broadband connectivity for high speed internet access so you can check your Facebook News Feed as you fly to work.

 

Aside from passenger and cargo services, AirSpaceX says the craft can also be used for medical and casualty evacuation, as well as tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).

 

Even Uber is working on making its ride-hailing service airborne.

 

Dubbed Uber Elevate, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tentatively discussed the company’s plans during a technology conference in January 2018.

 

‘I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years,’ he said.

 

DAILY MAIL

 

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