Bosch is working on a state-of-the-art sensor technology that makes these flights very safe and comfortable. Currently, traditional aircraft technology is too expensive or too heavy and large for use in autonomous air taxis. According to Bosch, this could be eliminated with modern sensors used in automated driving and the ESP anti-slip system. An engineering team has therefore combined a dozen sensors to create a universal control unit for air taxis, which is expected to launch in major cities by 2023 at the latest.
Bosch technology for air taxis
The universal control unit is designed so that the position of air taxis can always be determined, so that they can be controlled with high accuracy and safety. Bosch’s sensor box features so-called MEMS (microelectromechanical) sensors, which the company has been developing for vehicles for more than 25 years. These sensors provide information to the vehicle control unit as to whether the vehicle is braking or accelerating, and indicate the direction of travel. Bosch’s sensor box for air taxis is equipped with acceleration sensors that measure the movement of the aircraft. Built-in fan speed sensors show the angle of the aircraft and magnetic field sensors show the bearing angle.
The solution also includes pressure sensors that determine altitude using barometric pressure data and vehicle speed by measuring dynamic pressure values. In contrast to the current sensor systems in the aircraft sector, which cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of euros, Bosch can implement the solution at a fraction of these costs. The company uses sensors that have been tested, developed and manufactured for many years for the automotive industry. In addition, Bosch sensors are very small and light. Air taxi manufacturers can easily install the Bosch sensor box in their aircraft using the plug-and-play method.
The market for electric air taxis is expected to grow significantly in the coming years: by 2021, such flights are already planned, e.g. Dubai, Los Angeles, Dallas and Singapore. According to experts, the commercial plant could start in 2023. In the initial period, it is likely that there will also be pilots in the vehicles, and from 2025 onwards, light aircraft will be able to fly in autonomous mode in larger cities, which will be able to be controlled by ground staff. According to German strategic analysis and consulting firm Roland Berger, about 3,000 air taxis will be in operation worldwide by then. The number of air taxis could increase to 12,000 by 2030 and approach 100,000 by 2050. Morgan Stanley, a US financial advisory and services company, estimates that the air taxi market could reach as much as € 1.35 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion) by 2040, with Germany emerging from the U.S. and Southeast Asia markets. – and also in its medium-sized cities.