Designs for an all-electric'flying taxi' that will be able to carry up to four passengers from London to Brighton in just 30 minutes have been unveiled by a British firm. The zero-emission flyer -- the'VA-1X' -- will use Formula 1 tech to reach top cruising speeds of around 150 miles per hour and a maximum range of some 100 miles. Bristol-based designers Vertical Aerospace said that the craft is set to be the first winged, electric vertical-take-off-and-landing (eVTOL) craft to be certified. The firm expects that the VA-1X will begin commercial flights in 2024 -- whizzing right over ground-based traffic -- following flight testing which will begin next year. According to Vertical Aerospace, trips in the craft will likely end up costing travellers around £5–10 per mile travelled -- between that of a helicopter and a private car.
Reliable Robotics, a startup developing autonomous flight technologies, this week emerged from stealth with $33.5 million in venture capital funding. Cofounder and CEO Robert Rose says the funds will be used to scale production of the company's products and bring on new engineering talent. Aviation companies pursuing autonomous transportation include Uber, Boeing, and Honeywell. According to management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, replacing single-pilot operations with autonomous planes could save airlines as much as $60 billion annually. Pandemic headwinds have only reinvigorated the search for cost-cutting opportunities as Statista estimates that airlines will lose at least $314 billion in revenue in 2020. Looking to expedite their path to market, companies like Xwing, Airbus, and Elroy Air have explored retrofitting existing aircraft rather than developing hardware from scratch.
Honeywell announced investment and partnership with Daedalean.ai, Honeywell has invested in and signed a technological partnership with Swiss startup Daedalean.ai A longtime major player in aviation, Honeywell is working quickly to secure its position as a supplier of navigation, flight controls and other avionics for many of the 200 electric and hybrid VTOL concepts under development. Daedalean's computer vision and machine learning expertise, which is already used by Volocopter and likely other OEMs, is a sensible fit. The two companies plan to cooperate "towards the development of a fully autonomous AI pilot for [GA and UAM]," according to the joint press release.
A new, huge cargo drone, the APT 70, had the video of its first flight recorded and uploaded by pioneering aerospace manufacturer Bell. Built for delivery and disaster relief, the APT 70 can travel up to 18 miles on a single charge. The video shows off the impressive capabilities of cargo drones and how they could be used as an efficient future delivery system. The Autonomous Pod Transport 70 - or APT 70 for short - is 180 centimeters tall. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft comes with a range of 18 miles on a single charge.
Two years after World War II, billionaire Howard Hughes personally piloted his "Spruce Goose" troop transport aircraft on the first and only flight of the largest seaplane ever built. It lasted barely a minute. Now, more than 70 years later, a U.S. startup is testing a new seaplane concept--one that could evolve into huge cargo drones that fly 109 metric tons of freight across the Pacific, touch down autonomously over water, and unload at ports around the world. The startup Natilus was founded in 2014 with a dream of building large cargo drones to deliver international freight for about half the price of piloted aircraft, and much faster than ships. In December, Natilus planned to test the water-taxiing capabilities of a small prototype drone with a 9-meter wingspan in San Francisco Bay.