Take-off for air taxis! NASA is testing an electric aircraft that takes off and lands vertically – and could shuttle passengers at 200mph across busy cities by 2024
- NASA will test a range of future proof flying vehicles over the next decade
- It is part of a wider strategy to find the next generation of aviation technology
- The current test will feature a flying taxi that was created by Joby Aviation
- NASA will study its performance and sound levels in a city-like scenario
NASA is testing a new electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, in the hope that by 2024 will be able to shuttle passengers across busy cities at 200mph.
The Joby Aviation vehicle could one day serve as an air taxi service for those in cities and surrounding areas, adding an alternative mode of transport for people and goods, according to the NASA team working in Big Sur, California.
The all-electrical ‘flying taxi’ can take off and land vertically and is a helicopter powered by six rotors designed to be as quiet as possible.
The 10 day study started on September 1, and will see officials from the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center test its performance and acoustics.
The electrical vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle is the first in a number of aircraft that will be tested as part of NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) campaign to find future rapid modes of transport that could be approved for public use.
NASA is testing a new electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, in the hope that by 2024 will be able to shuttle passengers across busy cities at 200mph
WHAT IS ADVANCED AIR MOBILITY?
Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is an aviation system that encompasses developing and deploying aviation in innovative ways not typically seen.
This could include small flying drones to take parcels to remote locations, or aircraft to take single passengers across a city.
The AAM National Campaign is managed by NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility project.
It plans to be a community catalyst for developing and validating system-level concepts and solutions for AAM.
The AAM project is a part of the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
NASA’s goal is to collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modelling and simulation of future airspace concepts, the agency explained.
The work will allow NASA aerospace engineers to identify gaps in current regulations and policies related to air travel in the US.
This data will feed into Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, allowing for future AAM aircraft to be used as part of the National Airspace System.
The Joby light aircraft test is just one part of a multi-event campaign to advance airspace mobility in the US, NASA said, with others happening over several years.
‘The National Campaign Developmental Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry timeline,’ said Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager.
‘These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace.’
During this round of testing, NASA will collect data from Joby’s eVTOL aircraft, which is intended to serve as a commercial passenger service in the future.
Analysing that data readies the AAM National Campaign to execute the first set of tests, known as NC-1, slated for 2022, with more complex flight scenarios and other industry vehicles than during this initial testing round.
As the Joby aircraft flies planned test scenarios, the NASA team will collect information about how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers.
‘From day one, we prioritized building an aircraft that not only has an extremely low noise profile, but blends seamlessly into the natural environment,’ said Joby.
NASA’s goal is to collect vehicle performance and acoustic data for use in modelling and simulation of future airspace concepts, the agency explained
JOBY LIGHT AIRCRAFT
Joby Aviation produce an all-electric helicopter that can travel up to 150 miles in a single journey.
It can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, according to the company.
The firm hopes to get approval to operate the vehicle in the real world from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2023.
They hope to begin operations in 2024, flying over busy cities.
Aircraft Type: Normal category electric airplane that is capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)
Pilot Type: Commercial airplane pilot
Seating: 5 – 1 pilot + 4 passengers
Max Range: 150+ miles
Cruise Speed: 200mph
Wingspan: 38 feet
Length: 21 feet
Motors: Six tiltable dual-redundant electric motor units
Test Program: Over 1000 flights flown across various prototypes
‘We have always believed that a minimal acoustic footprint is key to making aviation a convenient part of everyday movement without compromising quality of life, and we’re excited to fly with NASA, our longtime partners in electric flight, to demonstrate the acoustic profile of our aircraft.’
Future partners will fly similar scenarios to evaluate their vehicle readiness for use in real world scenarios over busy, densely populated cities.
The team will deploy the mobile acoustics facility and construct an array of more than 50 microphones to measure the sound profile of Joby’s aircraft in different phases of flight to ensure it won’t cause excessive noise pollution when in use.
‘NASA’s AAM National Campaign is critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft,’ said JoeBen Bevirt, CEO of Joby Aviation.
‘We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight over the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign.’
Another element of the testing will be to create a baseline for participation in future tests, according to NASA, which will also include flight safety and airworthiness processes required to participate in the campaign.
When fully integrated into the national airspace, AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation, and other applications in the public interest, said NASA.
‘This system could include aircraft like package delivery drones, air taxis and medical transport vehicles.’
Drone ‘bus’ able to carry 40 people at a time will let New Yorkers fly to the Hamptons for just $85 – a fraction of the cost of a helicopter – but start-up creators say it won’t be ready until 2024
While Uber Elevate plans to launch an air taxi service for up to four passengers in 2023, a New York-startup is thinking bigger by developing a drone bus that fits 40 people.
Kelekona recently unveiled plans for a giant electric vertical takeoff and landing craft (eVTOL) to transport people between cities, with the first route set for Manhattan and the Hamptons.
This flight would take just 30 minutes and cost flyers $85 – the same price as a train ticket.
The firm is eyeing 2024 for its first passenger flights and plans to expand into different regions soon after that includes London to Paris and Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Kelekona recently unveiled plans for a giant electric vertical takeoff and landing craft (eVTOL) to transport people between cities, with the first route set for Manhattan and the Hamptons
Founder Braeden Kelekona told Digital Trends the company’s main competitor is public transportation, as many travelers hit the road, squish into trains or waiting on line for the bus when starting a vacation or weekend getaway.
And it seems fitting that the first route would be in New York.
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