WE HAVE LIFTOFF
British aerospace startup Vertical Aerospace doesn’t want to be like other flying car companies. Those other guys can handle the shorter trips, the way a taxi might — but Vertical Aerospace wants to use flying cars to transport people between cities. And the company claims its electric aircraft, which it recently tested for the first time, can do it more efficiently than a jet.
“Passenger numbers for short haul flights have exploded in recent years, but as a result aviation is now a major contributor to climate change and local air pollution,” CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick told CNN. “We want to decarbonize air travel and give people the freedom to fly from their local neighborhood directly to their destination.”
PROOF OF CONCEPT
A new video shows the first flight of Vertical Aerospace’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. It stays in the air thanks to four rotors like a quadcopter drone. In the clip, the craft lifts into the air at an English airport to hover about 10 meters (33 feet) above the ground for several minutes.
Like most other VTOLs, Vertical Aerospace’s craft takes off like a helicopter. After that, it cruises parallel to the ground like a plane, potentially at speeds as fast as 80 kph (50 mph.) Its target journey length will be between 100 and 150 kilometers (62 to 93 miles.)
FIRST IN FLIGHT
With that demonstration flight, which took place in June, the company became the first in the U.K. to test out a full-scale flying taxi prototype. It also moved one step closer to its goal of using eVTOL’s to make medium-distance travel sustainable.
Don’t expect to trade in your train ticket for a trip aboard a Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL any time soon, though. The company still has some kinks in the prototype to work out, plus regulatory hurdles to overcome, meaning the service likely won’t be available for at least another four years.
READ MORE: This 28-Person Startup Took a Big First Step Towards Launching a Nationwide Flying Taxi Service by 2022 [Business Insider]
More on flying taxis: Uber Just Promised to Bring Flying Taxis to Life in 3 Years