Flying cars could be hitting the skies faster than you think. Recently, the high-tech mode of transport has been receiving more and more clout. From Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines showcasing their futuristic flying taxi to United ordering 200 more vertical helicopters. Is the future now? And if so what does the future of flying have in store for taxis?
Those interested in the technology of flying vehicles may have already seen that Virgin and American Airlines revealed the mock-up of the VX4 at the Farnborough International Air show in July. The vehicle is not ready for flight just yet but does give passengers a pretty good idea of what the cabin would feel like.
The main attraction of vertical flying machines is to transfer people between transport hubs and surrounding urban areas. The fully electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) has been developed by a British start-up Vertical Aerospace and has received pre-orders from American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic alongside other helicopter firms, private jet companies and hotel chains.
The cabin aims to give customers a “premium experience,” with most flights lasting between 15 minutes to half an hour. The cabin is 1.9 meters by 1.6 meters wide and according to Insider has “plenty of leg room” for all four passengers who can use it. There is also storage underneath the seats and a cargo hold behind the cabin and the cockpit.
Additionally, United announced that it had paid $15 million to get a conditional purchase agreement for a flying taxi developed by the Brazilian plane maker Embraer, the Eve Air Mobility (EAM). The firm also paid a further $10 million in a pre-delivery deposit for 100 eVOTOLs being created by Archer Aviation in partnership with Mesa Airlines.
The main benefit of flying taxis is that they can cut travel times to enable swift, effective point-to-point travel. Furthermore, the electric functionality of the aircraft is a key step away from internal combustion engines used in current forms of air travel. The aircrafts also use modern conventional fixed wings, rotors and thrusters to generate a smooth flying experience. It could also reduce noise pollution by 90% compared to current aircrafts with a similar range.
However, there are some key concerns, cost being one of the main ones. It may be some time until regular people will be able to get into a flying taxi. Expensive technology aside, the eVTOLs will need a trained pilot to transport very few people, leading to extremely high labor costs. Additionally, many cities lack the infrastructure to welcome flying taxi’s meaning more added costs for the providers. Although as time goes by these costs could fall, that could be some time away yet.
For now, it’s fair to say you won't be offered a flying taxi next time you need to travel home from the airport but as investments continue to flock to the industry you could see the sector start to take off. For the time being we might have to settle for an uber but, who knows, maybe the sci-fi concept of flying cars isn’t as far away as we may think.
Photo: Eve Air Mobility