Leo electric air taxi

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As large as an average car, the Urban eVTOL Leo can carry up to four people. It can take up to four passengers on board, travel 480 kilometres on a single charge and reach a top speed of 400 km/h. These are impressive parameters, but what makes Urban eVTOL’s new Leo so promising is not that it is extremely compact: its footprint is just 3.05 * 6.1 metres, the size of a well-built American SUV – or three Smart Fortwo’s crosswise. The relatively modest dimensions are due to the fact that the designers used a large number of small propellers (about 40 cm in diameter) instead of many large ones. The Leo is powered by sixteen engines, each rated at 10 kW (13.6 hp), with jet engines for horizontal propulsion. The special double-deck wing design eliminates the need for lifting propellers once the aircraft reaches 100 knots (185 km/h), from then on it moves like an aeroplane. It is, incidentally, this biplane wing design that makes the vehicle so compact.

The size is not even important for home storage, although it sounds good to fit it in a garage. More important is the number of aircraft that can land on a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) platform at the destination: the more, the more practical the solution.

The Leo is equipped with a number of batteries for even weight distribution, with a total capacity of 60 kWh. Some of this will be used as back-up, and there will also be removable batteries that can be swapped for pre-charged units to speed up the charging process.

In its current configuration, the Leo is a three-seater: the pilot sits in the front centre, with two passengers behind him. However, when the robot-controlled version is ready, two rear-facing seats will be installed at the front, so that the vehicle can actually carry four passengers (instead of 2+1). As the roof and floor will be largely transparent, the vehicle will be easy to manoeuvre and the Leo will be ideal for sightseeing.

The expected operating time is about 75 minutes, including take-off and landing. This, combined with a cruising speed of 400 km/h, gives a range of up to 480 kilometres. It is planned to start live testing of the prototype as early as 2022. Urban eVTOL hopes to keep the price below $290,000 and expects to sell two Leo’s per week (100 per year).

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