Israeli startup NFT Inc. is developing its own autonomous electric flying car named ASKA. The vehicle is designed to address inner city road traffic congestion, and will be available for private purchase in the coming years. NFT will showcase the ASKA at the Ecomotion 2019 smart mobility show in Tel Aviv, and intends to begin test flights by next year.
Stage of Development
Basic Overview: The ASKA is the size of an SUV, has a range of 350 miles, and flies autonomously. It is capable of door-to-door transport and requires minimal infrastructural development thanks to its ability to park in a garage or on the street and take off from a 20 x 20 meter launch pad.
Safety for families with children: Engineering breakthroughs provide careful attention to safety, such as no exposed propellers.
Green: Our target is a 100% electric propulsion system, and we are in development with our partners to deliver it. The first ASKA™ model will have a hybrid system that works with current battery technology and still achieve our target ROI. These minimal infrastructure requirements are aimed to significantly reduce our environmental impact compared to competing technologies.
Highly aerodynamic design: The operating requirements and form factor of road and air vehicles are not the same. Our out-of-the-box thinking led to an advanced aerodynamic configuration that drives safely and effectively on the ground and flies very efficiently with improved L/D (lift-to-drag ratio) in the air.
Safe and simple transition to level flight: The sequence of transition from vertical flight to level flight is one of the main challenges in designing VTOL air vehicles. We combine 14 ducted fans, wing, and control surfaces with advanced control software to ensure a safe and smooth transition.
Quiet operation: A sophisticated ducted fan geometry and rotor design ensures a low noise level.
Evacuation: Because ASKA™ is the size of a car, it can be moved with a typical tow car -- no need for special cranes, etc.
Charging and fueling: ASKA™ will use existing charging and fueling stations to eliminate the cost and environmental impact of building an extensive new infrastructure.
Additional safety features: Design innovations match FAA safety requirements which include high reliability, back-up systems and sophisticated redundancy management algorithms.
Safe landing: In case of power system failure the battery package will support a 5 km radius for safe flight and landing.
Our Take on ASKA
Next Future Transportation is pursuing a class of eVTOL suited for personal use, and has been able to incorporate a myriad of features. While it is not yet definitive that the door-to-door solution is applicable to the widest market of potential consumers, it is a likely transportation solution for wealthy individuals in need of a personal vehicle. Guy and Maki Kaplinsky have extensive experience in serial entrepreneurship and strong market aptitude, which will help get consumers behind the wheel and get ASKA in the skies. The upcoming flight testing phase of the ASKA will play an important role in validating the various claimed mission capabilities and features.
The Latest News from TransportUP
EHang Enters Agreement with Seville, Spain to Begin Urban Air Mobility ProgramMarch 17, 2020
Flying Car Creator PAL-V to Build Production Plant in GujaratMarch 15, 2020
e.SAT Reveals New Design for the Aerial Mobility MarketMarch 14, 2020
Back to The Hangar
BLADE Urban Air Mobility recently announced that they will be extending their jet charter services to customers at operating cost to support those needing urgent on demand transportation from affected areas. From a BLADE press release: “Given the unprecedented level of uncertainty regarding commercial flight travel restrictions, mandatory health screenings for international commercial arrivals (with hours-long waits), and seemingly random...
BLADE Urban Air Mobility recently announced that they will be extending their jet charter services to customers at operating cost to support those needing urgent on demand transportation from affected areas.
From a BLADE press release: “Given the unprecedented level of uncertainty regarding commercial flight travel restrictions, mandatory health screenings for international commercial arrivals (with hours-long waits), and seemingly random decisions regarding quarantines, many of our fliers are eager to transport family, friends, and colleagues home via private air travel.”
BLADE furthered the statement by outlining that they have been coordinating with federal authorities, full-time state and local government advisors, and operator partners to help customers navigate the confusion regarding current, planned, and in-process restrictions and processes that remain critical to making informed judgments regarding private air travel at this time.
The key announcement: In an effort to best assist our community, BLADE is now providing charter availability for our entire accessible fleet of long-range jets at operating cost to anyone in need of transportation from an international location back to the United States.
Additionally, given the shortage of available aircraft, and in an effort to help as many travelers as possible, BLADE encouraged that these flights be shared, either through coordination by BLADE or by fliers themselves, assuming travelers had taken necessary precautions to ensure that they were not infected.
Why it’s important: BLADE’s reduction in cost for charters and on-demand transportation services has allowed customers access to international travel when they may not be able to access via any other means due to restrictions placed on commercial airlines. Regardless, those who are in greatest need of traveling for urgent situations, or attempting to return home to their families, still have the opportunity to do so. This announcement also falls in concert with the larger direction of the commercial airline industry being hit incredibly hard by the COVID-19 outbreaks, causing reductions in carrying capacity, crew leaves of absence, and extensive delays, cancellations, and rescheduling of airfares.
Chinese aerial mobility developer EHang has signed an agreement with the government of Seville, Spain, to initiate an Urban Air Mobility program that will build systems for passenger transport and autonomous airspace management in the city. This marks one of Europe’s first cities to begin planning for an aerial mobility future. EHang has built itself into one of the world’s...
Chinese aerial mobility developer EHang has signed an agreement with the government of Seville, Spain, to initiate an Urban Air Mobility program that will build systems for passenger transport and autonomous airspace management in the city. This marks one of Europe’s first cities to begin planning for an aerial mobility future.
EHang has built itself into one of the world’s top AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) platform developers in the world. Along with the creation of an eVTOL aircraft resembling a large drone, EHang also has been developing intelligent systems for airspace management of its vehicles and smaller UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). The mission of the company is to create a completely autonomous aerial network. EHang opened on the U.S Nasdaq early this year at a $662 million valuation.
The agreement with the city of Seville specifies that EHang will work with the Seville government to develop aerial passenger transportation and command and control platforms within the city. The government will also collaborate with EHang on applications for permission to conduct test flights, in accordance with Spanish and European legislation, and will coordinate with EHang in the planning of flight routes.
In addition, EHang will perform an aerial light show in Seville on September 20th to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage around the world, which began in Seville.
Seville Mayor Juan Espadas Cejas commented, “Establishing the partnership with EHang, one of the world’s leading UAM enterprises, is a great opportunity for Seville. Our city has a rich legacy in European aviation, which we believe can promote EHang’s AAV tests, operations, and permitting applications both in Spain and Europe. We look forward to EHang’s first flight in Seville and hope our cooperation will facilitate the commercialization of its UAM ecosystem in Europe.”
Why it’s important: As mentioned by EHang CEO Mr. Hu Huazhi, AAVs have excellent potential in older cities like Seville that have many small, narrow streets that are inaccessible by automobile. Wider streets are often very congested, and historic areas are often damaged by pollution from carbon emissions. According to the European Commission’s urban mobility report, congestion in the EU costs nearly EUR 100 billion every year, accounting for 1% of the EU’s annual GDP. If cities like Seville successfully adopt electric aerial mobility, the positive impact on Europe as a whole could be massive.
Netherlands-based flying car manufacturer, PAL-V has announced plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India, building off of its announcement to test the prototype in the area last week at the Economic Times Summit in Delhi. The company is in its final stages of certification in Europe as of February 2020. The announcement also comes with new Memorandums...
Netherlands-based flying car manufacturer, PAL-V has announced plans to set up a manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India, building off of its announcement to test the prototype in the area last week at the Economic Times Summit in Delhi.
The company is in its final stages of certification in Europe as of February 2020.
The announcement also comes with new Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the Principal Secretary of State, MK Das. This MoU will greatly help the flying car manufacturer in receiving all the necessary regulatory approvals to set up a new production plant in Gujarat.
PAL-V chose Gujarat for its world-class infrastructure, relative ease of conducting business, and low cost basis for producing its flying car prototype at scale. The PAL-V Liberty has been under development for the past decade, will have the ability to transform from a car to a flight vehicle in less than 3 minutes, and can fly distances of over 500km.
The Liberty will be able to seat two people with 20kg of baggage.
Why it matters: This announcement follows recent news from PAL-V last week at the Economic Times Summit in New Delhi and signals a significant investment in India for the final production and testing of its vehicles. In addition, another agreement with Kuwait Airways for suggests that that PAL-V may expect its first customers to be residents of the East. If the company meets its 2021 goal of delivering final vehicles to customers, it would be among one of the first to do so and usher in the era of aerial mobility.
e.Sat represents the newest German aviation startup to enter the aerial mobility market. A new project company, e.Sat is working on the “Silent Air Taxi” project, an electric hybrid platform, stemming from the German Council of Science and Humanities (RWTH) Aachen University. The project currently employs 50 people for development and engineering of the electric fixed-wing aircraft. It was first...
e.Sat represents the newest German aviation startup to enter the aerial mobility market. A new project company, e.Sat is working on the “Silent Air Taxi” project, an electric hybrid platform, stemming from the German Council of Science and Humanities (RWTH) Aachen University. The project currently employs 50 people for development and engineering of the electric fixed-wing aircraft. It was first presented at the Paris Air Show, where all parties signed a letter of intent. Currently, the maiden flight is set for mid-late 2020.
In development for over 4 years, the e.SAT is designed to carry 5 occupants, 4 passengers and 1 pilot. The aircraft will have a cruising speed of 300 km/h (186 MPH) with a range of 1000 km range (621 miles). Its take-off distance is 400 meters or 1,312 feet. The powertrain components are to be provided by the Fraunhofer IPT (Institute for Production Technology), and the actual engine will be provided by MTU Aero Engines. It will also feature a connected box wing configuration, an interesting choice as few other aerial mobility companies have attempted a design with one. According to Lars Wagner, MTU Aero Engines COO, the Silent Air Taxi project has a high chance of becoming a reality.
The e.SAT’s main draw is focused on a vital area for eVTOL development: sound. The company states that their intention is to develop the e.SAT with 65 dBA takeoffs, and have the aircraft be completely “inaudible” at 100 meters (328 feet) away.
Dr. Günther Schuh, Managing Director and Dr. Schuh, professor of Production Systematics at the RWTH Aachen University are both the co-founders of the electric vehicle manufacturer Streetscooter and managing director of the electric vehicle manufacturer e.GO Mobile. Additionally, the Transport Ministry is securing 4 million euros for an extension of the project, with an additional 12.7 million euros earmarked for further development of the Aachen-Merzbrück airfield where the aircraft will be tested.
The company hopes to achieve its EASA CS-23 certification in 2024.
Why it’s important: With established companies and early startups already deep into their process of developing their version of aerial mobility, e.SAT looks to make up for their later start with an emphasis on low noise disturbances from their aircraft. Undoubtedly an important factor in getting a quick certification for their design, we are excited to see which direction the e.SAT takes over the course of the next few decades.
Source // electrek
With the newest smart electric motors from Safran, the electric Voltaero Cassio has taken flight. The Voltaero Cassio, developed by former Airbus CTO Jean Botti, is a hybrid-electric, high-range airplane, built to bring cleaner energy to regional commercial flights, private aircraft ownership, and more. The hybrid system utilized by Voltaero gives the Cassio the utmost safety, the lowest noise emissions, and...
With the newest smart electric motors from Safran, the electric Voltaero Cassio has taken flight.
The Voltaero Cassio, developed by former Airbus CTO Jean Botti, is a hybrid-electric, high-range airplane, built to bring cleaner energy to regional commercial flights, private aircraft ownership, and more. The hybrid system utilized by Voltaero gives the Cassio the utmost safety, the lowest noise emissions, and highest fuel efficiency among any existing aircraft of its class. The new company formed by Botti aspires to eventually create 150 five-to-nine passenger aircraft each year.
Voltaero entered the latest testing phase of the Cassio last July, when it first partnered with Safran to begin development of the prototype. The company has been working on the Cassio since its founding in 2018, and deliveries of production aircraft are expected to begin as early as 2021.
The latest set of testing marks an important milestone for Voltaero, as it proves the viability of the hybrid-electric powertrain. Said Voltaero founder and CEO Jean Botti: “I am very pleased with the testing as we accumulate time aloft and open up the aircraft’s flight envelope. The current test phase is with the powertrain for our six-seat Cassio version, to be followed by validation of the final aerodynamic and powertrain configurations on both the four- and nine-seat Cassio versions.”
Said Technical Director Didier Esteyne, who piloted the test aircraft, “Flying on the power of Safran’s ENGINeUSTM motors is truly remarkable, with no vibration and extremely low noise levels. It confirms that our Cassio aircraft will bring an entirely new experience to aviation.”
Why it’s Important: With this latest breakthrough for Voltaero, an enormous step has been taken forward for the era of sustained electric flight. While eVTOLs do not generally use hybrid systems as does the Voltaero Cassio, development of hybrid-electric airplanes that can travel for extended periods of time contribute greatly to the potential for all electric aircraft. Notably, Safran is also developing electric motors specifically built for eVTOL applications, extending its expertise in electric propulsion for aviation.
- Former Airbus CTO Jean Botti is Developing A New Electric Airplane
- Safran Unveils Electric Motor Built for VTOL Aircraft
- Harbour Air Completes First All-Electric Powered Flight
Skyports, the urban air mobility infrastructure provider and drone delivery operator, announced an extension to its Series A funding to now total £6 million ($8 million) with investment from Irelandia Aviation. Skyports aims to build and operate critical infrastructure for urban air mobility and managing end to end drone deliveries. The company is working with the leading electric vertical take-off and landing...
Skyports, the urban air mobility infrastructure provider and drone delivery operator, announced an extension to its Series A funding to now total £6 million ($8 million) with investment from Irelandia Aviation.
Skyports aims to build and operate critical infrastructure for urban air mobility and managing end to end drone deliveries. The company is working with the leading electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger and cargo vehicle manufacturers around the world to secure, design, build, own and operate vertiports enabling safe and efficient flight operations within urban and suburban environments. Ultimately, its vision includes end-to-end cargo drone deliveries within the medical, e-commerce and logistics sectors overcoming inefficiencies associated with traditional transportation methods.
Last December, Skyports announced that they’ve raised £5.35 million in Series A funding. The funding round was jointly led by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) and Groupe ADP. Levitate Capital also participated in this funding round following their seed investment in the company in January 2018. Just this week, Irelandia Aviation announced that it joins existing Series A investors Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures, Groupe ADP and Levitate Capital in the investment round.
Skyports intends to use the funds to continue its ambitious programme of site acquisition for passenger and cargo vertiports in cities around the world, including Singapore and Los Angeles. The company will also expand its team to enable the full commercialisation of its urban and rural drone delivery services.
Founder and managing partner of Irelandia Aviation, Declan Ryan, will take a seat on the Skyports board.
Duncan Walker, Chief Executive of Skyports, said: “Irelandia have been pioneers in the aviation industry for many years. Irelandia and the Ryan family have founded five airlines including Ryanair in Europe, Tiger Airways in Asia, Allegiant in the USA and Viva Air in Latin America where Declan is Executive Chairman. It is a privilege to welcome Declan to our board and testament to our ambition that he will be taking this position. Their investment further strengthens our financial position. Skyports investors have a combined balance sheet in excess of €80 billion (£70 billion) putting us in a unique position to build scale in this emerging industry.”
Declan Ryan, Managing Partner of Irelandia Aviation, said: “We are delighted to partner with the team at Skyports who have become leaders in the development of the infrastructure required to enable the UAM industry. We at Irelandia look forward to working with Skyports, aviation regulators, manufacturers and operators to expand in new markets and make UAM and drone services a reality globally. We look forward to furthering Irelandia’s demonstrated track record of democratizing air travel around the world.”
Why it’s important: The investment from Irelandia Aviation, the world’s premier low cost carrier (LCC) developer, is an early indication that aerial mobility is intended to be for the common commuter. Increased accessibility hinges on reasonably low price points for UAM transportation options, so the experience that Irelandia brings will have great value in striving toward this ultimate goal.
Source // Skyports
The Aerial Mobility industry is providing Next-gen technology to combat next-gen problems The role of technology and disruptive mobility solutions had a cemented station in the technology sphere across the globe, and a defined and measurable rate of progress, for the most part. Two months ago, that all changed with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak from China, straining medical personnel,...
The Aerial Mobility industry is providing Next-gen technology to combat next-gen problems
The role of technology and disruptive mobility solutions had a cemented station in the technology sphere across the globe, and a defined and measurable rate of progress, for the most part. Two months ago, that all changed with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak from China, straining medical personnel, first responders, local, nation, and global political organizations, and the economy worldwide.
Many of the advantages of the future generation of aerial mobility technology relate primarily to the unrealized functionalities, and possibility, that unmanned, on-demand aerial mobility transportation tech provides to the world in unique situations with use cases that aren’t currently defined. Here are a few ways that COVID-19 is accelerating the development and deployment of aerial mobility technology worldwide.
Surveillance Drones Enforcing Quarantines
Billion dollar industries don’t normally emerge overnight, but in Shenzhen, China, home to over 70% of the world’s civilian drones, surveillance technology that was previously used for surveying and real estate applications has been repurposed to support the enforcement of curfews. Forbes and the South China Morning Post overviewed the details of how some surveillance drones are helping to enforce the curfews that are estimated to affect some 50 million residents. Shenzhen Smart Drone UAV’s were the primary use case for reconfigured platforms.
Chairman of Shenzhen MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology, Lu Zhihui, has performed the same reconfiguration of surveying and mapping drones that can be geared with loudspeakers, thermal sensors, 40-times zoom lenses and flood lights to help enforce quarantines, if necessary.
According to SCMP, MicroMultiCopter has 100 drones to local authorities in 11 Chinese cities since the outbreak led to citywide quarantines in late January. The company is also working with government agencies that include the police, transport department and local marketing divisions that promote and advertise the restrictions. Lu stated that each drone can patrol a 10 square kilometer urban area in an hour, saving the work of more than 100 police officers in dozens of patrol cars.
Lu also added that MicroMultiCopter plans to more than double its production to 5,000 units this year, from last year’s 2,000. Lu did not comment on the list price of the technology.
Corollaries in Disaster Relief
Across continents, the benefits of using drones is clear: the European Emergency Number Association, in collaboration with drone maker DJI and Research Firm Black Channel, determined that drones find those needing rescue significantly faster than ground-based Search and Rescue (SAR) methods. This corollary doesn’t apply directly to COVID-19 response, but it does underscore the specific advantages that drones have over other aircraft and ground based system in natural disaster relief scenarios.
Rapid Transport of Medical Goods
Aerodeli, an Antwork branch company, gained the first commercial drone delivery license from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in October of 2019. Since February 6th, 2020, the company has been utilizing their technology for safe transport of medical sample technology.
GPS World Magazine categorized Aerodeli’s work as “RA3 and tr7s drones and unmanned RH1 station [that] are ensuring that medical samples and quarantine materials can travel with minimal risk between Xinchang County People’s Hospital and Xinchang County’s disease control center. The automatic, unmanned air delivery system significantly reduces contact between samples and personnel, as well as improves delivery speed.”
Both the rate of transport of these samples, and the safety with which the samples are being moved both contribute to the value proposition of aerial mobility technology as a key enabler for addressing the complicated societal problems of the future. Drones require limited human interaction, save sample loading and unloading, and the rate of transport has been reported as up to 50% faster for current intracity trips (according to the flight statistics of these drones operation in Xinchang). This time savings is an exciting figure as the speed of transport will continue to increase in speed as the industry continues to mature due to advancements in flight path sequencing and loading/unloading flows.
Beyond COVID-19 Transport
Many other examples of medical goods transport via air taxi exist and are being tested at this time – including Beta Technologies’ Ava prototype, designed in conjunction with United Therapeutics to transport human organs in time critical, emergency scenarios. Tier 1 Engineering, another startup funded by United Therapeutics, utilizes energy efficient, battery powered helicopters to transport human organs in critical scenarios, and serves as a hybrid for large scale aerial mobility operations for human organ transplants until more custom solutions are certified by aviation regulatory authorities.
Delivery Drones for food and consumables delivery
Quarantine enforcement and medical good transport some of the primary applications of drone aerial mobility and drone technology to fighting coronavirus, but some additional, indirect benefits also provide the necessary support mechanisms that facilitate societal upkeep during heightened sensitivity periods to disease, infection, or natural disaster.
An often overlooked analogue is the role that drones and future mobility technology provided during the Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey – drones allowed for rapid aerial surveying, search and rescue, and medical goods supply and transport, on a limited basis. These events occurred over 10 years ago – and the maturation of mobility technology in those past 10 years have allowed for the heightened level of societal benefit from the tech itself.
On a larger scale, companies such as DHL and UPS have piloted their own drone delivery services. These services will allow at scale the free flowing movement that is highly desired of large fulfillment centers and e-commerce stores. While challenging the describe in this manner, the outbreak of COVID-19 is a fortunate event and forcing function for the progress of larger scale drone deliveries, as the benefits of a large network that could transport food, consumables, and emergency/disaster relief equipment in a scenario such as a hurricane, earthquake, or virus outbreak have been made blatantly clear.
An Aside on Enabling Technologies
While many of the technologies that are affecting and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak perform direct functions, ancillary and supporting technologies, such as low-altitude airspace management, infrastructure, battery technology, AI flight controllers, and advanced aerospace grade composite materials all contribute to the overall success of these disruptive mobility applications.
Why it’s important: While mass-scale commercial aerial mobility technology will not be viable for at least another 10 years, the societal benefits and value proposition to the everyday consumer, even if that consumer isn’t riding in an air taxi, are evident amplified due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As early as 2009, during Hurricane Katrina, drones and disruptive mobility technology has been utilized to aid in disaster relief, search and rescue, medical transport, and surveillance operations.
Oftentimes, massive global events, such as wars, natural disasters, or political turmoil provide, ironically, some of the greatest progress in technological advancements that have ever been accomplished: The Cold War and the Moon Landing, WWII and the jet engine, the industrial revolution, and so on. While the current global outlook is negative, the situation that has emerged is one ripe for taking advantage of the greatest opportunity afforded to anyone: the right to do better and do what was not possible, before it was said it could be done.
With content from Forbes, South China Morning Post, GPS World Magazine, CNN, and CNBC.
PAL-V is a Dutch company that’s been developing a personal drivable aircraft for over ten years since its founding in 2008. Since then, PAL-V has been working hard to advance its technology and move forward toward both land and air certification. The PAL-V Liberty can take off within 330m, fly at speeds over 180kph, and can land vertically. The company expects...
PAL-V is a Dutch company that’s been developing a personal drivable aircraft for over ten years since its founding in 2008. Since then, PAL-V has been working hard to advance its technology and move forward toward both land and air certification. The PAL-V Liberty can take off within 330m, fly at speeds over 180kph, and can land vertically. The company expects to deliver its first aircraft to the hands of customers by December 2021.
Accroding to PAL-V Co-Chairman Drs Janpieter Koning, company representatives recently met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demonstrate its technology. “We might start testing in India very soon” said Koning at the Economic Times Global Business Summit in New Delhi. The Economic Times Summit this year covered many topics, including the the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the impact of artificial intelligence on businesses and employment generation, and corporate preparedness to face disruptive changes.
PAL-V hopes begin production in 2021, and according to many sources, is reaching the final stages of the certification process in Europe. The company also recently signed a Memorium of Understanding with Kuwait Airways, which will help provide aviation maintenance service for PAL-V’s customers.
Why it’s important: PAL-V’s Liberty is significant as it’s one of the only personal road-capable aircraft that will soon be available for sale. While other companies such as Terrafugia have pivoted directions, and others are selling private aircraft with a more VTOL-style for a higher price-point, PAL-V has stayed the course in making a personal aircraft that can also serve the daily commute. This may make it one of the first in the industry to begin unit sales to private customers.
Sources // The Economic Times
The Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, initiated by the FAA and NASA, is designed to provide a ‘proving ground’ for new types of urban aircraft, allowing both government regulators and the new aircraft developers to begin setting the standards for commercial certification. This week, NASA announced seventeen of the companies it will be working with in the Grand Challenge. The...
The Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, initiated by the FAA and NASA, is designed to provide a ‘proving ground’ for new types of urban aircraft, allowing both government regulators and the new aircraft developers to begin setting the standards for commercial certification. This week, NASA announced seventeen of the companies it will be working with in the Grand Challenge.
The main event of the Grand Challenge will take place in 2022, and will be a “full field demonstration in an urban environment that tests the readiness of companies’ vehicles and airspace operators’ systems to operate during a full range of passenger transport and cargo delivery scenarios.” According to NASA, the timeline set for the Grand Challenge series was dictated by predictions from participants on their aircrafts’ readiness. Traffic management systems, weather resilience, safety, and other systems for communications and navigation will all be tested and evaluated.
The other eleven industry partners with NASA focus on providing solutions and data for UAM air traffic management services, which will be a key part of the aerial mobility ecosystem. During the Grand Challenge, these companies will test their airspace management services in a series of NASA-designed airspace simulations. The list of companies includes:
- ANRA Technologies
- Ellis & Associates
- Metron Aviation
- OneSky Systems
- Uber Technologies
- The University of North Texas
Why it’s Important: NASA’s Grand Challenge is not only designed to test new aircraft, but to help NASA and the FAA set certification requirements for vehicles going into commercial operation within the next ten years. Companies that participate in the Grand Challenge are likely to have a head start on launching operation of their aircraft in commercial services.
NASA Completes First Steps in Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge
New Zeva Zero Prototype Images Revealed
Sources // eVTOL.com
EHang recently announced that the company obtained operational permit for its two-seater passenger-grade AAV, the EHang 216, from the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway (CAA Norway). This is the first operational permit for long term testing flight of EHang 216 in Europe, laying a solid foundation for future urban air mobility (UAM) operations in other EU countries. After the assessment...
EHang recently announced that the company obtained operational permit for its two-seater passenger-grade AAV, the EHang 216, from the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway (CAA Norway). This is the first operational permit for long term testing flight of EHang 216 in Europe, laying a solid foundation for future urban air mobility (UAM) operations in other EU countries.
After the assessment of test flight plans and contingency plans, the CAA Norway issued an operational permit for EHang 216 to conduct flights together with a local customer for the purpose of testing and certification. According to CAA Norway, it believes the country ’s geographic conditions suit the testing of unmanned aircraft well. Covered with a long strip of land with abundance of sparsely populated areas and free airspace, the country has started to build a network of small airports since 1960’s, connecting most territories throughout the country. For the test flight of EHang 216, CAA Norway looks forward to witnessing it at Elvenes airport.
Bente Heggedal, the Head of section for unmanned aviation, CAA Norway commented, “EHang is an exciting and forward-looking project that shows the rapid development of UAM and AAV technology by today. The autonomous passenger aircrafts of the future can contribute to more efficient transport, particularly in urban areas, and the electric models are a great contribution to the green shift. We look forward to EHang demonstrating a well-proven and secure system, so that passenger AAVs can be a safe alternative for passenger transport.”
Surrounded by sea on three sides and rich in oil and gas (O&G) resources, Norway is a big exporter of O&G. According to Norway’s 2020 National Budget, its oil industry contributes to 14% of its GDP and one fifth of the national income. In addition, an economic survey by Statistics Norway projected the country’s total oil investment to reach $18.3 billion in 2020, accounting for 19% of the nation’s total investment.
At present, Norwegian offshore drilling platforms are still using helicopters for various transportation tasks such as personnel, spare parts, supplies, and O&G samples, which cost high in fuel and man powers.
EHang’s networked and intelligent AAV provides a safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly solution, it enables simultaneous control and real-time data exchange of multiple AAV through a command-and-control platform, which not only significantly saves cost in labor, but improves the operational efficiency by providing uninterrupted services 24-hours per day.
With key features of safety, automation, vertical take-off and landing, big payload, cluster management, efficiency, and low cost, the EHang’s AAV solution is expected to play a significant role in various tasks such as frequent and point-to-point O&G samples delivery, maintenance and inspection, wind power plant servicing, and transportation of radioactive materials, etc.
“In the new wave of the development of the oil industry in Norway, EHang expects to empower the O&G industry with our AAV technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, and promote the use of green energy. In the past two years, we have established strategic partnerships with valuable European partners such as Vodafone, FACC and the ProSiebenSat.1 Group. We expect to work with more strategic partners and help them with our safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility solutions”, said Hu Huazhi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang.
EHang became a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq Global Market on December 12th, 2019 under the ticker symbol “EH”. On January 8, 2020, EHang received the first special flight authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and conducted its first-ever trial flight of EHang 216 in America.
Why it matters: EHang is quickly expanding its presence around the world and is now making its mark on the European aerial mobility industry. With competitors in the region including the likes of Volocopter, the company will face fierce competition. However, EHang’s long record of successful test flights and certifications will make it a primary contender in the area for years to come.
Bye Aerospace, developer of the eFlyer family of FAA Part 23-certified all-electric aircraft, announced that Cassie Kloberdanz Lee has joined the company as a Strategic Advisor. Lee is co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, a highly competitive internship and mentorship program designed to inspire and train undergraduate women seeking a career in aviation or space exploration. A global activist for...
Bye Aerospace, developer of the eFlyer family of FAA Part 23-certified all-electric aircraft, announced that Cassie Kloberdanz Lee has joined the company as a Strategic Advisor.
Lee is co-founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, a highly competitive internship and mentorship program designed to inspire and train undergraduate women seeking a career in aviation or space exploration. A global activist for women in aerospace, she is a member of an international team working on projects that ensure the benefits of space reach women and girls, and that women and girls play an active, equal role in the future of space. Previously, she served as Chief Operating Officer for Earthrise Alliance, a philanthropic organization that derives value from Earth system data to create actionable knowledge to combat climate change. She was also Head of Space Programs at Vulcan Inc., where she led the development of innovative space solutions in support of Paul G. Allen’s Impact initiatives such as improving ocean health, addressing climate change and using data to save species at risk of extinction.
Prior to her work at Vulcan, Lee was the Business Development Manager for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, where she held a variety of engineering roles on the Dream Chaser® orbital vehicle program and co-founded the Advanced Development Program. She has led Media and Public Relations for SpaceX and designed and taught a graduate-level course in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Lee began her career as a Propulsion Engineer for NASA at Kennedy Space Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder.
“We are honored to welcome Cassie to our elite group of strategic advisors,” said George E. Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. “She brings a unique combination of aerospace engineering experience, philanthropy and education, not to mention her work in creating more global aviation and space exploration opportunities to young women.”
Why it’s important: Bye Aerospace aims for the eFlyer family of aircraft, including the 2-seat eFlyer 2 and the 4-seat eFlyer 4, to be the first FAA-certified, practical, all-electric airplanes to serve the flight training and general aviation markets. In order to achieve its goal, the company will require diverse perspectives from experienced professionals spanning multiple industries. Lee brings to the table a perspective of environmental sustainability, in addition to her activism amongst women in aerospace; both focuses are critical to the longevity of aviation for decades to come.
Source // Bye Aerospace
teTra Aviation, an aerial mobility design team from Tokyo won the $100,000 Pratt & Whitney Disruptor Award at the first GoFly Prize Final Fly-Off. Tasuku Nakai, a doctoral student at the University of Tokyo, was lead of the team that won the award for its teTra 3 machine. The teTra 3 was awarded for its system integration and design for safety, which exceeded the accomplishments of other...
teTra Aviation, an aerial mobility design team from Tokyo won the $100,000 Pratt & Whitney Disruptor Award at the first GoFly Prize Final Fly-Off. Tasuku Nakai, a doctoral student at the University of Tokyo, was lead of the team that won the award for its teTra 3 machine. The teTra 3 was awarded for its system integration and design for safety, which exceeded the accomplishments of other teams related to safety and accident prevention.
The Final Fly-Off was postponed to a later date due to high winds which prevented any aircraft from flying from Moffet Federal Airfield at the AMES Research Center. This also means that the award of the $1M and $500,000 prizes were postponed for the overall winner and the quietest flyer, respectively.
The GoFly competition, in total, included 854 teams that submitted 3800-plus innovators. Over 100 countries were represented as participating in the GoFly challenge, a competition that has been ongoing for the past two years.
“After much anticipation, we are thrilled to announce that teTra Aviation is the winner of the Pratt & Whitney Disruptor Award,” said GoFly Founder and CEO Gwen Lighter. “The team displayed the technical design and creative prowess that we set out to inspire when we created the GoFly Prize. teTra created a unique personal flyer and we look forward to supporting them as they take the next steps towards revolutionizing human mobility.”
“Innovation has always been at the core of our DNA at Pratt & Whitney and we applaud GoFly’s efforts to transform the industry,” confirmed Geoff Hunt, Senior Vice President, Engineering. “We’re proud to sponsor such an exceptional competition and we designed the Disruptor Award to recognize the team that challenged the status quo, delivered unique thinking into a complex issue and considered safety, reliability, durability and system integration.”
“This is beyond my imagination,” said Nakai. “The whole team is glad to celebrate this achievement. Personal flying is the future of transportation and I know there will be a day when every person will be able to take off and land anywhere. On behalf of my entire team, I want to say thank you to GoFly and Pratt & Whitney.”
Prior to the Final Fly-Off, held at Moffett Federal Airfield during Leap Day, 10 teams were named Phase I winners and were awarded $20,000 prizes for their concepts, while five teams were named Phase II winners and were awarded $50,000 for their prototype submissions. The GoFly organizers stated that “GoFly looks forward to awarding that $1 million prize in the near future.”
The GoFly Prize is supported by Grand Sponsor Boeing, Disruptor Award Sponsor Pratt & Whitney, as well as more than 20 national and international aviation and innovation organizations. All teams participating in the competition also benefited from the guidance and expertise of a dedicated Mentors and Masters program.
Why it’s important: While the Final Fly-Off has not yet been completed, the Disruptor award’s impact to teTra and to the larger personal and aerial mobility industries, while small in total magnitude, can make a large difference for teTra’s advancement of their technology and future designs. While the teTra may not be the end all solution to on-demand commercial aerial mobility, the enabling technologies related to development of this machine could easily be applied to larger UAM operations for greater safety and reliability in the future.
Joby Aviation, a budding eVTOL air taxi designer and manufacturer partially backed by Toyota, has begun work on its manufacturing facilities in Marina, California. In the latest news, Joby has begun leasing and renovating several hangars at the Marina Municipal Airport. According to Joby spokesperson Mojgan Khalili, the new facilities will be used to “support the development and manufacturing of...
Joby Aviation, a budding eVTOL air taxi designer and manufacturer partially backed by Toyota, has begun work on its manufacturing facilities in Marina, California. In the latest news, Joby has begun leasing and renovating several hangars at the Marina Municipal Airport. According to Joby spokesperson Mojgan Khalili, the new facilities will be used to “support the development and manufacturing of our electric aircraft.” Eventually, the Joby space at Marina Airport may occupy as much as 30 acres.
Joby recently announced a notable Series C fundraising sum of over $720M with collaboration from investors like Toyota Motors and JIMCO, a major middle-eastern investment company. Joby is based in Northern California near its upcoming facilities in Marina, and only recently came out of ‘stealth mode’ with images of its latest prototype. Joby also recently announced its partnership with Uber Elevate to bring its world-wide electric urban air taxi vision to life.
Joby currently occupies three hangars at Marina taking up 30,000 square feet each, with plans to build an ‘aviation tent’ outside these facilities taking an additional 55,000 square feet. Architectural plans for the final aircraft manufacturing facility are already under review, which will take up 580,000 square feet total.
Although Joby has yet to say what specific activities will take place at the initial hangers and aviation tent, Joby’s intent is to establish a strong presence in the Marina community, bringing a wide variety of new air taxi related jobs to the area. According to posts from the city of Marina’s website, Joby is “already making a big impact on Marina with new jobs, improved airport facilities and new high tech interest in the community.” Joby has already employed 20 people full time in the Marina facility, and on some days, 40 people.
Why it’s important: Joby’s recent entrance into the field of highly funded air taxi companies further establishes the future of eVTOL. The impending reality of the air taxi industry is becoming very clear as Joby gears up to mass produce its aircraft.
Source // Monterey Herald
Dr. Simon Briceno joins the aerial mobility startup, Jaunt Air Mobility, as their lead in UAM development, and will head Jaunt’s operational initiatives with Uber Elevate and their network of aerospace and infrastructure partners, according to a Jaunt press release. “The addition of Dr. Briceno to the Jaunt Air Mobility team is further validation of Jaunt’s leadership position in Urban...
Dr. Simon Briceno joins the aerial mobility startup, Jaunt Air Mobility, as their lead in UAM development, and will head Jaunt’s operational initiatives with Uber Elevate and their network of aerospace and infrastructure partners, according to a Jaunt press release. “The addition of Dr. Briceno to the Jaunt Air Mobility team is further validation of Jaunt’s leadership position in Urban Air Mobility.” said Kaydon Stanzione CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility, “With his years of aviation research experience at the highest levels and his depth of knowledge in transformative flight and Urban Air Mobility, Dr. Briceno is an important addition to the Jaunt team.”
Dr. Briceno previously worked eight years as Transformative Aviation Concepts Division Chief at the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology. After receiving his BSME from Syracuse University and his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he spent 12 years as a Senior Research Engineer at the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory at Georgia Tech and 8 years as Transformative Aviation Concepts Division Chief at the Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory at Georgia Tech.
Dr. Briceno has conducted several landmark Urban Air Mobility studies and has authored over 70 technical papers concerning the study of air mobility operations conceptual design, autonomous systems, and aviation safety and certification. His specialization is in the development of advanced design methods to assess electric vehicle technologies in emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aviation markets and developing methods for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) autonomous path planning. He is also an active pilot.
According to Dr. Briceno, “I elected to join Jaunt Air Mobility because they are not only developing the safest, quietest and most operationally efficient, all-electric VTOL aircraft for the UAM mission, but their focus includes developing the complete Urban Air Mobility eco-system. This allows me to apply my years of experience and research directly to Jaunt’s business model.”
Why it’s important: Dr. Briceno brings a wealth of experience and research knowledge to Jaunt Air Mobility, and will greatly aid Jaunt’s goal of implementing a full aerial mobility ecosystem. With this addition, Jaunt Air Mobility looks to be one of the most promising companies that will offer such a service.
Source // Jaunt Air Mobility press release