We all remember watching flying cars in movies like Star Wars, Blade Runner, or Men in Black, and going: “That seems so cool.” Well, while I am not here to tell you that starting tomorrow you will be able to buy a flying car, I can tell you that there have been some really interesting advancements in the field. Today, there are many countries and companies that are working on self-driven drones that could serve as taxis in the most congested and important areas of the city, one of the first steps towards flying cars.
First, we have China, who as I mentioned in previous articles, aims to dominate the markets of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in the years to come. On one hand, Chinese companies DJI and Autel Robotics are currently the major manufacturers of motors, sensors, gyroscopes, processors, and all the necessary components of this new kind of vehicle. Then, also Chinese companies like EHang are already carrying out multiple test flights with live passengers, with really promising results. This and other companies look to fully enter the market for transportation and delivery by 2025.
Then we have France and South Korea who have already begun test flights with the company Volocopter. Volocopter is a German Aircraft manufacturing company specializing in the design of electric multirotor helicopters in the form of personal air vehicles, designed for air transportation. The company’s catalog includes short-range vehicles for urban transportation, like the Volocity, fast and long-range vehicles for set important routes, like the VoloConnect, and drones specifically meant for delivery purposes, such as the Volodrone. In the case of France, the country has initiated several test flights, as they plan to use these vehicles during the upcoming 2024 summer Olympics. On the other hand, South Korea plans to use these vehicles as an easy and fast way to transport workers and passengers between Airports in the same city, or between different terminals inside an airport.
Furthermore, Thales, Airbus, and Diehl Aerospace have entered a trilateral agreement to jointly develop the central flight control system of CityAirbus NextGen, the new electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL). The group is going all-in in this project and is expected to make its first journey in 2023. Thales will develop the primary computing system while Diehl will develop the secondary flight control computer. This secondary computer will oversee the data of the primary computer system. All developments will be supported by public funding from the German and French governments. As Josef Kocher, the CEO of Diehl Aviation said: “eVTOLs will be a key part of mobility in the future and will enormously enrich it in our cities but also beyond. For this, the safe operation of the innovative aircraft, of course, plays an essential role.” Finally, the Netherlands, Qatar and New Zealand are also currently carrying out flying taxi trials.
It is undeniable that this new technology is here to stay, and we can all be excited for this transportation revolution as it will not only relieve traffic congestion, one of the greatest problems of big cities today, but it will also have a great positive impact on the environment.