Many startups are working to produce airborne things with electric propulsion, advanced electronics, and manageability by lay people.
This also shows that, on the one hand, there is a huge interest in this field and, on the other hand, there has been a huge development in recent years in the field of components needed to create vehicles. In vain do we find that our mobile phone used to be barely a week, and today it barely lasts a day, the capacity of the batteries has increased many times over, and the performance of the computers is enough for fine automatic control. momentum dominates the sector.
The biggest problem with the car-flying concept is the crowd; the roads require rugged wheels and a powertrain, and all of this is a serious disadvantage of staying in the air, plus a real pilot’s test is required to drive. Official licensing is also a complex issue, as certification has to be obtained from both road and aviation authorities and the requirements are still, as with drones, in a very rudimentary state. In addition, it is difficult to get a working copy for less than 300 thousand euros.
Elsewhere, the problem is approached by the E-Volo Volocopter, an electric-powered helicopter with a drone-like structure. It has 18 small propellers and is able to move forward even when some of its propellers are not working and even parachutes in an emergency. Its main units are easy to replace, the position of the vehicle is constantly monitored by dozens of sensors on the road, watching for possible turbulence. All the pilot has to do is set the altitude and the direction of flight, everything else happens automatically. If the two-seater aircraft goes into production within 2-5 years, a simple sport pilot exam (60 theoretical and 30 practical hours) will suffice to drive it.
If all of these plans come to fruition, today’s urban sky could be filled with fast-paced irons. This, in addition to the fleets of freight courier drones that may also increase, will also present management challenges. NASA experts are already working to monitor the low-altitude airspace that anyone is free to use, but if the technology evolves at the current pace, even they will be able to take control of the vehicles themselves. One such remotely powered electric aircraft is the Chinese EHang. The Ehang 184 model may be perhaps the first air taxi to be operational and marketable. It looks like a steroid fattened on steroids, in which the passenger can enter their target using a touchpad, and it then automatically travels and avoids any obstacles.
There would also be a market for the service: Mark Moore of the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia is researching how to operate air taxis in Silicon Valley. According to him, hundreds of landing sites could be set up on rooftops and in the green areas around motorway junctions. Its price can rival that of normal passenger transport, but it is three times faster. Airbus also sees fantasy in the idea of air taxis, but they stick to traditional solutions. In their innovation center set up in the region, they run helicopter hauls alongside Uber, but currently the advertising value of the thing for both companies is far greater than the business benefit.
Peter Diamandis, who became famous for his X-Prize, which is a major foundation of space tourism, dreams of a phone-based service and would accelerate development in the usual way, with a similar competition: the creator of the first working robot would receive a million-dollar prize.