By Stefaan Ghijs
The Flying Car
Is the flying car the future of air taxi’s? Quite some companies are developing a flying car. Although very futuristic, in the basis they still require a pilot and an airport to take off. Of course you could try to get your own pilot license. But the latter would mean that you lose the benefit of working on board this flying car when you are travelling to your meeting.
Meaning you lose the benefit of an air taxi, which is saving you presious travel time and giving you flexibility. With most of the flying cars you even have to unfold parts of the flying car before you can actually take off, which does not make the itinerary very seamless.
Passenger Carrying Drone
But what does the future of air taxis uphold? Fly Aeolus envisions that instead of flying cars we should make ourselves ready for a new type of air taxi, the passenger carrying drone. This would entail a true door-to-door modality, which does not require take-off or landing at a regional or small airfield.
As we speak different drones are already performing multiple test flights under different kind of circumstances, including high heat, heavy fog, night, and during Category 7 typhoons with gale-force winds. The drones which are tested are called eVTOLcraft. eVTOL is the abbreviation for “electric vertical take-off and landing”.
Companies building these passenger carrying drones, mention that the drones are able to take off autonomously, fly a route, sense obstacles and land themselves: a true air taxi in which the hassle of travel has faded away. Nonetheless, in the event something goes wrong a human pilot can step in, interfere and take over the controls from a remote command station.
Additionally the drones have a fail-safe system. If a component is malfunctioning or disconnecting, the aircraft will land immediately in the nearest possible area to ensure the safety of the passengers.
Challenges of the air taxi drone
Do keep in mind that these air taxis are, as they are now, not suitable for long haul flights. They are merely used for shuttling passengers across dense urban environments. The biggest difficulty though, which the development of drone design is facing, are the huge number of technical, regulatory, safety and human aspects and challenges. Of course it is only a matter of time before these will be solved. Perhaps the human evolutionary process will be the most challenging one!