eVTOL: Is this what the future of transport looks like?

volocopter

Intelligent transport technology is taking over the world step-by-step. And one of them fueling the growth is eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing). This particular market is growing significantly, thanks to the rising awareness towards traffic congestion, low maintenance costs, and rapid technological advancements. It is estimated by MRFR that the eVTOL aircraft market could reach $4,063 million by 2030 with North America and Europe dominating the segment. 

What is eVTOL and UAM?

eVTOL aircraft is the next-generation autonomous electric aircraft offering enhanced safety and comfort and minimised noise. These vehicles provide flexibility, convenience, fast commute and reduced air pollution. Undoubtedly, these eVTOL aircrafts are opening up air travel to all in new ways. 

From an environmental perspective, eVTOL saves fuel and time as compared to normal aircraft that circle busy airports waiting for runaway space. Safety is another aspect as it is estimated that 85% of aeroplane accidents occur during takeoff and landing. Eventually, a multitude of companies are in pursuit of bringing about realistic air taxi services in this category. These projects eVTOL the future of unmanned air mobility (UAM). 

A British eVTOL developer Samad Aerospace recently shared its plans for its two-seat, hybrid electric personal VTOL aircraft dubbed Q-Starling. As per the company, the Q-Starling has a length of 26 feet and a takeoff weight of 1040 kgs. This eVTOL has a range of 500 miles and can cruise at 250 knots (km per hour) at an anticipated service ceiling of 15,000 feet. 

The fly-by-wire aircraft features a side-stick controller through which the pilot can command all three axes of rotation along with vertical and forward movement. 

However, Samad Aerospace is not the only one that works in making eVTOL the future of UAM. Here are a variety of eVTOL concepts under development across the world and supported bynotable aerospace companies. 

Bell 

Bell’s Nexus eVTOL features a central wing, a V-tail, integrated landing skids, and a short horizontal stabilizer. The prototype is a five-seater including the pilot and can cover an anticipated range of 150 miles at a cruise speed of 178 mph. As of now, the company has revealed two versions of the Nexus eVTOL with the second one using four ducted fans in the place of six as in the original one. This Texas-based aviation and aerospace company was established in 1935 by Larry Bell and produces nearly 60% of the overall helicopters.   

Embraer

Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer produces military, commercial, agricultural and executive aeronautical services. EmbraerX, its acceleration and innovation arm unveiled its first eVTOL aircraft concept back in 2018. It includes flight systems for safety, reduced overall noise output, an eight rotor system for even distribution of life across its body, and the ability to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs too. The company was founded in 1969 by Ozires Silva. 

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk’s Flyer is a private flying car project by Larry Page (Google Founder). It is a complete electric hoverbike developed to have hovered specifically over water. The flyer weighs 250 pounds and consists of two joysticks and 10 battery-powered propellers. The vehicle can be flown even by non-pilots with just a few hours of training. It performs best at a top speed of 20 mph with a flight time of 12 to 20 minutes. Kitty Hawk was established in 1903 by Sebastian Thrun and supported by Larry Page.

Volocopter

Established with the motto of creating eVTOL multi-copter aircraft for well-organized and fast urban travel, Volocopter is popular for beginning urban air taxi services at reasonable prices across the world. The Volocopter VC1 prototype is an electric manned flight. Volocopter VC200 is designed for about 100 km/h and showcased the speed of 69km/hr. The company announced that they have created more than 1,000 test flights. It can carry 2 passengers and can hold a maximum weight of about 150 kg. Stephen Wolf and Alexander Zosel established Volocopter in 2011 in Karlsruhe (Germany).   They manufacture aircraft, provide air taxi service, and permit passengers to book flights through the app. 

Aurora 

Aurora was developed to serve as an air taxi in urban environments and also to fly, to and from the Skyports of Uber. The PAV or Passenger Air Vehicle is a four-passenger eVTOL aircraft. It functions on batteries and electricity. It can cover 56 mph at the cruise speed of 90 km/h. The aircraft comes with eight propellers, three surface wing configurations, and one tail-mounted pusher propeller. Aurora expects that the takeoff noise will blend with the background road traffic sound and be inaudible while in cruise flight. The company has revealed three design models, which have been considered. Aurora Flight Sciences was established by John Langford in May 1989. 

Workhorse 

Workhorse launched its first electric helicopter on April 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is said to be the first manned flight in the world under the hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft category. As per the company, it is a personal eVTOL aircraft or helicopter launched for easy and safe flight journey. It consists of eight independent motors, an airborne parachute to land in conditions of emergency, and a backup battery power unit. The flight can carry a maximum payload of 400 pounds. The top speed of aircraft is 70 mph and it can cover a maximum distance of 70 miles. Surefly or Moog was established by the Bill Moog and team in 1951.

Joby Aviation

By combining elements of small airplanes and helicopters, Joby Aviation manufactures eVTOL aircraft for affordable, fast and quiet air taxi services. Some of their previous projects include Joby Monarch, Joby Lotus, and Joby S2. Their recent S4 aircraft was planned secretly. The design is said to be derived from the Joby S2 model. S4 Air Taxi by Joby Aviation is a five seat vectored thrust aircraft that utilizes six tilting propellers. It can cover a 150-mile range at 200 mph cruise speed. It is expected to be available for the public in 2023 as an air taxi and on demand UAM (urban air mobility). Joby Aviation was established in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt and Paul Sciarra. 

Lilium 

Lilium’s first flight is unmanned and untethered five-seater jet. Being a full-scale prototype, it remains ideal for vertical take-off and landing by utilizing 36 all-electric ducted fan’s power.  The top speed of Lilium is 300 km/h and the maximum flight time is 60 minutes. It is said to complete longer journeys than its competitors. It can carry five passengers. Also, the noise is six to seven times less than the helicopter take-off noise. Being a Germany based company, Lilium was established by four product designers and aerospace engineers in 2015. 

Airbus 

Cityairbus is a four-seat, all-electric, remotely piloted eVTOL aircraft suitable for urban ridesharing. It consists of a multicopter configuration featuring four ducted high lift propulsion parts. The electric motors drive eight propellers that make sure of a low acoustic footprint. The Cityairbus cruise speed will be around 120 Km/h and flight time about 15 minutes.  Airbus aims for low-cost units but at the same production at high volume. It is designed in an ecofriendly way. It is developed for fixed route mobility between important transit hubs such as downtown to a seaport or airport. 

Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce EVTOL concept aircraft is developed for military and cargo, commercial passenger, and personal applications. It can occupy four to five members. The cruise speed is approximately 250 mph for a range of 500 miles. Its M250 hybrid-electric engine delivers approximately 500 KW of electrical power. It provides customers new ability at system, component, and vehicle level. As the battery is driven by gas turbine technology it does not require recharging. It can utilize existing infrastructure like airports and heliports. It is designed with a low noise contour. Rolls Royce is an aero engine and luxury car manufacturing company in Manchester, UK. Henry Royce and Charles Rolls- the founders established Rolls Royce in 1906. 

Vertical Aerospace

Proof of Concept aircraft by Vertical Aerospace is uncrewed eVTOL. It can accommodate four passengers and flies at the maximum speed of 299 km/h with a range of 150 km. It consists of four propellers and four electric motors. Some of the notable safety features of the aircraft include electric motors, electric batteries, and small propellers. Vertical Aerospace has utilized advanced technology to change the way people fly. The company has developed Proof of Concept intending to create intercity ai on demand, personal, and carbon-free. Stephen Fitzpatrick is the founder of Vertical Aerospace. The company was established in 2016 to transform air travel by utilizing advanced technology from the automotive, energy, and aviation industries.  

Pipistrel 

Pipistrel has announced that they are focusing on various versions of the eVTOL concept. It can carry two to six members and utilizes devoted propulsion systems for vertical lift and cruising. Pipistrel is the first company with an electric airplane – the Alpha Electro. The company is also focusing on Cargo Drone. Pipistrel Vertical Solutions is the new subsidiary of Pipistrel’s eVTOL development efforts. Ivo Boscarol established Pipistrel in 1989.

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