Flying cars have always been part of science fiction, but now they could be just around the corner, offering a new dimension to the taxi fleet.
On Monday, guests at the Paris Air Show will be treated to a virtual flight of Eve Air Mobility’s electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL).
The four-passenger “air taxi” resembles a helicopter with wings and Eve hopes it will be operational by 2026. Its design includes eight rotors fixed to the wings, providing vertical take-off and landing capabilities. It will be fully electric and have a range of 60 miles. Initial aircraft will have pilots with the ultimate goal of launching “autonomous operations” after that.
Instead of passengers hailing a black cab or booking a private hire vehicle, the concept is to operate an air taxi service that will avoid already congested town and city streets and reduce pollution. Initial plans are to link up with airports and train and bus stations, running an efficient shuttle service for connecting passengers.
While the project is still in the early stages, it is likely that it will have to be insured as an aircraft, rather than have public hire insurance or private hire insurance. But if the idea really takes off, there could be ranks of flying taxis in towns and cities waiting to collect people after shopping trips or a meal or night out.
Such is the belief in the project that even before a prototype has been built, almost 3,000 aircraft have already been ordered.
And United Airlines has put $15 million into the project as part of a partnership with Eve to launch special commuter flights in the San Francisco Bay area in 2026.
Eve Air Mobility CEO Andre Stein said: “Our shared goal is to provide residents and visitors to the San Francisco Bay area with efficient and cost-competitive transportation in one of the most densely populated urban areas in the US. The Bay Area is perfect for eVTOL flights given its size, traffic, focus on sustainability, innovation and commitment to add other options for mobility.”
Monday will be a key date in Eve’s journey, bringing together key players in the aviation industry.
Mr Stein added: “The Paris Air Show brings together aviation’s global players and showcases the biggest news and the latest advances in the aerospace sector. Eve comes to Paris with tremendous momentum as we continue the development of our eVTOL, including progressing toward key program milestones.”
Guests will be treated to Eve’s cabin mock-up including a “human-centered design, a quiet, efficient, and sustainable zero-emission eVTOL”.
As well as debuting the concept in Paris on Monday, design, technology, science and science fiction website Gizmodo has reported on recent wind tunnel testing completed by Eve as it moves towards its first take-off.
Eve chief tech officer Luiz Valentini told Gizmodo: “The testing allows engineers to monitor the flow of air over and around the vehicle and each of its individual parts” and added that completing the wind tunnel testing was an “engineering milestone”.
Communications director Christian Flathman added: “We were able to validate vehicle characteristics and efficiency along with gathering critical data to validate our vehicle design. This is an important step before we commit to production tooling and manufacturing.”
There is still a lot of work to do but successful testing and a good reception in Paris could help science fiction become a reality in the not-too-distant-future.
And it could lead to taxi firms and bases here adding similar aircraft to their fleets to deliver a versatile service to passengers.
Our previous articles or flying taxis.
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