WHO NEEDS A PILOT WHEN YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN? –
The ultimate flying experience, the Jetson ONE drone
By Greg Evans
Passenger drones are the newest cool. One company, Jetson Aerospace has designed a single passenger eVOTL (electric vertical take-off and landing) craft that simulates an airborne sandrail. Weighing a mere 190 pounds, and powered by a Tesla battery, this 20-minute gravity assassin is capable of reaching heights of nearly 5,000 feet and then, using special integrated software, guiding the aircraft back to earth producing a velvety landing. This is space-age equipment, but it is not intended, yet, to transform the world. As Jetson co-founder Peter Ternström explains, “We are not trying to solve the big problems in the world related to urban air mobility or air taxis. The only thing we’re focusing on is showing people how profoundly fun and exciting it is to fly.” This personal aircraft is constructed from aluminum and carbon fibre and powered by eight powerful purring electric motors. The Swedish company’s goal is to make the skies accessible to everyone. The actual prototype was completed back in 2018, and since then, the company has been working overtime to bring to the market a consumer-friendly model. “We intend to make everyone a pilot,” they said. The company was founded in 2017 by Peter Ternström and Tomasz Patan, two forward-thinking Jedis, modern-day Wright Brothers turning their dreams into ultra-reality. The design of the aircraft is a race car-inspired spaceframe safety cell design, that resembles a rollbar you would find on a beach buggy. There are built-in emergency functions that allow the craft to hover hands-free, and it also has the capability to fly with the loss of one of its motors. For an ultimate safety measure, there is a ballistic parachute with rapid deployment and high-tech lidar sensors for obstacle avoidance and terrain tracking potential.
What is most astounding is that to fly one of these buzzsaws doesn’t require a pilot’s license, just an adventurous spirit, and some hard-earned cheddar! These aircraft aren’t cheap, but affordable to those who can divvy up the $100,000 and worth every cent. In-depth testing is underway, including a six-month weather testing program that will run up until April 2022.
IS TRAFFIC TOO OVERWHELMING FOR AN UBER OR LYFT? CALL A VT30
By Greg Evans
Don’t feel like taking Uber or Lyft to escort your squeeze out for some pork boa or kimchee fried rice at Pubbelly Sushi; or taleggio cheese ravioli washed down with a bottle of Caterina Zardini Valpolicella Classico Superiore, 2011, at Casa Isola Osteria? Then call up for a VT-30. EHang, a leader in passenger-grade drones, is determined to test the boundaries of aerial accessibility and revealed a new 2-seater drone taxi for inter-city, traffic avoidance, transit bliss. With a focus on green travel, these eco-friendly air cabs are capable of traveling up to 100 minutes covering a distance of over 180 miles per charge. They expel zero emissions and reportedly create nearly no noise pollution. They have a tri-redundancy fly-by-wire control system that can be adjusted via mode changes heightening the vehicle’s safety measures. Have to land outside a nightclub tucked away surreptitiously in one of the city’s exclusive alleyways or side streets? No problem! The VT-30 enjoys the facility of a vertical landing capability as well as taking back off straight up into the clouds.
EHang founder-chairman and CEO, Huazhi Hu said, “We will work continuously to obtain regulatory certification for our various autonomous aerial vehicle products, including the VT-30, and provide a more convenient and efficient public urban air mobility operational service.”
As of December of 2021, EHang secured its first order giving it a foothold in the company’s quest to become a legitimate player in Japan’s urban air mobility market. The VT-30 is considered a long-range Vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) consisting of eight propellers attached to parallel booms connecting the wing to the tail, eight sets of electric motors, a fixed-wing with winglets, and a pusher propeller at the end of the fuselage for stabilization. Along with all the other bells and whistles, this imagination dragon has a streamlined fuselage with a combined lifting rudder surface at the tail. “Compared with conventional inter-city transportation modes, VT-30 is expected to provide more efficient, environmentally friendly, and low-cost solutions to urban dwellers as well as expanding the capacity for existing UAM services,” the company said. EHang is devoted to safety and aerial perfection and will continue to conduct tests and optimizations under different conditions, continuously improving its product. EHang is the world’s preeminent AAV (autonomous aerial vehicle) technology platform company. “Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone,” EHang said.
I’D LIKE A MODEL SD-03, ULTRA-LIGHT, LESS FILLER PLEASE!
By Greg Evans
SkyDrive is a Tokyo-based aero tech startup that recently unveiled a compact flying machine sure to get the goose-bumps nice and plump on the arms of passenger drone aficionados. The Model SD-03 is an electric VTOL (vertical take-off and land) flying daydream that is emission-free, pilot-controlled but assisted by a computer control system to ensure maximum flight stability and safety. This aircraft was designed to be the world’s smallest eVTOL model. The powertrain is constructed of eight rotors, two rotors distributed throughout four locations, rotating in opposite directions, powered by its own motor. Precise light fixtures were designed and fixed to the aircraft with two white lights in the front, and a string of red light stretching across the bottom of the body provide witnesses a fetching visual while promoting safety by alerting those nearby of the presence of the craft. The craft has soft, rounded features creating an aesthetically pleasing presentation. SkyDrive hopes that its flying car will “become people’s partner in the sky rather than merely a commodity.” CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa explains future is changing, and so is the means of transportation, “We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation in the skies and people are able to experience a safe, secure, and comfortable new way of life.” The SD-03 made its first piloted test flight at the Toyota Test Field in Japan. This makes sense being that SkyDrive is a Toyota-backed startup working to make flying taxi cabs part of our everyday life as early as 2023. This is a single-seat prototype, though the company envisions a more commercial design containing multiple passenger seats in the near future. But for a single-person trip to the grocery store or the local pizza parlor for a slice, the SD-03 aircraft is ideal.
NO NEED TO WAIT AT THE BUS STOP TO TAKE THE CITYAIRBUS INTO THE NEXT GENERATION OF AERIAL TRAVEL
By Greg Evans
CityAirbus NextGen is a concept lightyear ahead of its time. The idea stemmed from the company’s belief that commuting can be relocated to the sky. For us, that spend what seems like the majority of our waking lives stuck in endless traffic jams and at unsynchronized red lights, the idea of moving everything up into the sky can’t happen fast enough.
This all-electric eVTOL is a four-seat multicopter concept vaunting an 80-km range producing zero emissions for an eco-friendly trip. The goal of the cutting-edge design had simplicity in mind, optimizing design elements to maximize reliability, safety, efficiency, and comfort. The aircraft is powered by eight electric-powered propellers, “part of its unique designed distributed propulsion system.” Passengers are welcomed into a spacious cabin containing four seats with smooth boarding procedures. The aircraft is a fixed-wing with a V-shaped tail providing stability. The multicopter allows for cruising and hover efficiency and does not require tilting surfaces or moving parts to convert from hover to cruise. This NextGen flying magic carpet ride entered its detailed design phase in 2021 and plans to fly the prototype’s first flight in 2023. Being that the aircraft will spend a considerable length of its life in urban environments the company has taken an interest in dramatically lowering the sound level to garner public appeal. A noise-friendly design concept was key and successfully achieved with levels below 65 dB(A) during flyovers and below 70 dB(A) when the aircraft is landing. To make sense of this, the sound level of 65 dB (A) is as loud as an Air conditioning unit at 100 feet away. Like its sister all-electric passenger drones, the engineers of the CityAirbus are environmentally conscious. “CityAirbus NextGen is a flagship aircraft, designed to help lead the way towards the decarbonization of the aviation industry as a whole,” Airbus said. The idea is for the CityAirbus NextGen to become a pioneer in the quest for a more efficient sustainable urban ecosystem. Airbus Helicopter CEO Bruno Even has said, “We are on a quest to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility into the cities while addressing environmental and social concerns. Airbus is convinced that the real challenges are as much about urban integration, public acceptance, and automated air traffic management, as about vehicle technology and business models. We build on all of the capabilities to deliver a safe, sustainable, and fully integrated service to society.”
This multicopter is intended to be used as a taxi to help reduce ground traffic congestion. Up to four passengers can be driven by a single crew member. The aircraft has a length of 26 feet and 3 inches with a wingspan also at 26 feet and 3 inches. Maximum takeoff weight is 4,850 pounds and cruising at a speed of 75 mph. Airbus Helicopters is interested in one day creating a self-piloted craft to shuttle customers to and from destinations. What seems futuristic to those of us that grew up in a world before the iPhone, is only a few years, if that, down the road.