The prospect of “flying cars” and on-demand aircraft taxis to fly passengers quickly and safely above congested roads is closer than you may think, a conference in London hosted by ITS (UK) member WSP has heard.
The consultancy business says digital technology, vastly improved battery power density, electric propulsion and lightweight materials means that early schemes are already a reality and there will be many more by the middle of the next decade.
Tim Morrison, Aviation Director at WSP told the meeting that the future is arriving quicker than we realise. Piloted eVTOL craft are only a year away with autonomous aircraft production following in the middle/end of 2020’s. The tops of buildings, car parks and rail stations, can offer vertical take-off and landing aircraft Skyports. Whether for personal use or, adopting the Uber business model the 3rd Dimension offers more options for improved mobility.
The event heard from British manufacturers Neo X Craft (illustration pictured) which has patented propulsion and materials technology which makes for a smoother and longer journey for passengers. It currently has a two-person eVTOL aircraft in development and a five-passenger version is in the pipeline. Current ranges are up to 75 miles, with a journey from Central London to Heathrow Airport taking around 10 minutes, or, San Francisco to San Jose around 15.
VRCO’s CEO and co-founder Daniel Hayes added that the aircraft his company is developing are very safe, fitted with parachutes, and, can fly with only five of their eight rotors, ensuring that they will land without safely should there be a problem.
He added that the idea would have a positive effect on infrastructure, possibly removing the need for building more roads. Furthermore, that the overall cost per person of a shared flight could be as low as US$0.33 per mile once economies of scale are introduced (quoting Uber ‘Ride Share’ figures).