The race will demonstrate the latest advancements in the Airspeeder’s hovering and maneuvering technology, and hopefully boost tourism to Coober Pedy, which has seen visitor numbers plunge during the COVID-19 pandemic. To many it may sound futuristic, but international startup Alauda Racing says it will host a full-scale flying car race in remote South Australia before the end of the year....
The race will demonstrate the latest advancements in the Airspeeder’s hovering and maneuvering technology, and hopefully boost tourism to Coober Pedy, which has seen visitor numbers plunge during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To many it may sound futuristic, but international startup Alauda Racing says it will host a full-scale flying car race in remote South Australia before the end of the year. Airspeeder has been developing the cars, which use drone technology to hover and maneuver above ground. The startup’s co-founder, Matt Pearson, said despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a big year for the industry. “With electric aviation, with the drone industry, with the autonomous vehicle industry boom — all the technology that makes autonomous electric cars possible, are making the electric flying cars industry,” he said in a recent interview.
The Alauda Airspeeder is a small single seater eVTOL designed for racing. According to Pearson, the vehicle is best described as a cross between an F1 car and a racing drone, and is capable of flying up to 124mph. Approximately one year ago, Alauda’s unmanned prototype of the speeder took to the skies at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, UK. Watch the Alauda video below:
Although Alauda experienced some technical difficulties with the Airspeeder at Goodwood, the Alauda team still plans on debuting races in 2020. Said Pearson, “with early technology, these things happen.” The Alauda team explained that the error, which caused the prototype to briefly lose control, would have been impossible in a manned aircraft.
He also was able to provide more details about what we can expect to see in Coober Pedy later this year and in the near future. The race will be a display for the public, demonstrating two remote-controlled cars being put through their paces. It will be a while however, before the vehicles have drivers in them. Airspeeder has approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to fly large scale, commercial drones, but is yet to negotiate a license to fly people. We’re working on that with the authorities — so not yet, but it is in process and we hope very soon we’ll have that possibility,” Mr. Pearson said.
Why it’s important: Australia has provided impressive support and infrastructure for many aerial mobility startups to begin testing their platforms in a controlled environment. Even Google and Amazon have chosen Australia for their test programs because of fairly advanced regulations. Alauda Racing hopes to capitalize on this opportunity to demonstrate a unique application of eVTOL technology that most have never fathomed possible. As an added benefit, this race is likely to draw tourism to the small town of Coober Pedy. With an extraterrestrial-style landscape, Coober Pedy will make for a thrilling backdrop to watch one of the world’s first flying car races.
Source // ABC News
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium. Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it...
While commercial aviation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, Baillie Gifford signals its confidence in the future of transportation with a $35 million investment in aerial mobility vehicle startup, Lilium.
Munich-based Lilium is an aviation company developing an emissions-free regional air mobility service. It has designed and prototyped the Lilium Jet, a brand-new type of aircraft that will enable it to deliver regional journeys that are considerably faster than rail or road, yet competitive in price. The demonstrator aircraft first flew in 2019 and is a five-seater, fully-electric aircraft that can take-off and land vertically (eVTOL). Lilium expects to service a sizeable global market demand by connecting communities at a fraction of the cost of conventional high-speed infrastructure, with zero operating emissions.
On Tuesday, Lilium welcomed respected investment management partnership, Baillie Gifford, as a new investor. Known for their track record of investing in high-impact technology companies such as Amazon, Tesla, Airbnb, Spotify and SpaceX, the partnership has invested $35m in the company, extending the current funding round to more than $275m, and total investment to date to more than $375m.
The news comes less than three months after Lilium confirmed it had received $240m in additional funding from existing investors including Atomico, Freigeist, LGT and Tencent, who led the investment round. Combined, these funds will support the further development of the Lilium Jet as well as underpinning preparations for serial production in Lilium’s newly-completed manufacturing facilities.
Commenting on the new investment, Christopher Delbrück, Chief Financial Officer, Lilium, said: “Baillie Gifford is one of the world’s most influential tech investors and their commitment to Lilium represents a significant vote of confidence in both our physical product and our business case.
“We look forward to working closely with Baillie Gifford as we seek to bring emissions-free, regional air mobility to the market as early as 2025.
“The funds raised during this round give us the security to weather the challenging economic landscape we see around us and we’re grateful to be able to stay fully focused on our mission.”
Commenting on their investment, Michael Pye, Investment Manager at Baillie Gifford, said: “We are delighted to support the remarkable team at Lilium in their ambition of developing a new mode of transport.
“While still at an early stage, we believe this technology could have profound and far-reaching benefits in a low-carbon future and we are excited to watch Lilium’s progress in the years ahead.”
Why it’s important: The aerial mobility industry is proving to be robust in these otherwise turbulent times for the aviation and transportation industries. Lilium, in particular, has boasted strong funding round results, and recently announced that it will resume flight testing after its employees spent over two months working off-site due to the global impacts of COVID-19.
Source // Lilium Media Release
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of...
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.
The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of aerial mobility technology as supplemental (and eventually in replacement of) current mobility offerings for both manned and unmanned missions. The initiative is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential aquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation are engaged in area of Interest One (AOI-1) of the solicitation campaign, which is seeking vehicles capable of transporting three to eight people at least 100 miles (160 kilometers) at speeds of at least 100 mph, with first flight taking place before the end of this year.
In a press release, Air Force program executive officer for Mobility and Training Aircraft, Lynda Rutledge, articulated the organization’s excitement to work with these innovative and quick-moving air vehicle manufacturers. In the first phase of the collaboration, Beta and Joby submitted “solutions briefs”. These led to a second phase in which the Air Force engaged with them directly to assess their vehicles’ commercial viability, operational utility, technical readiness level, certification path, timelines, needs, and opportunities. Now in the third stage, the OEMs may submit full written proposals for the potential award of an “Other Transaction for Prototype” (OTP) agreement.
Beta and Joby are among the most advanced and well-funded eVTOL developers in an increasingly crowded market. California-based Joby unveiled its prototype air taxi in January of this year, when it also announced $590 million in Series C funding, the bulk of which came from Toyota Motor Corp. Vermont-based Beta — which has already conducted an extensive flight test campaign with its Ava XC prototype — is now poised to reveal its new eVTOL, called ALIA. It has a launch customer in United Therapeutics, which plans to use the 6,000-pound (2,720-kilogram) aircraft to transport human organs.
Why it’s important: The defense sector’s increased interest in aerial mobility is providing a contract diversification opportunity for manufacturers such as Beta and Joby. The companies could greatly benefit in the long run by providing their products to both commercial and military applications, as it would enable financial diversity and mitigate the impact of a downturn in a single sector. The benefit of this strategy has recently been underscored by the impact of COVID-19; as the commercial aviation industry and aircraft orders have stalled, defense contractors continue to fulfill demand at exceedingly high rates.
Sources // USAF; eVTOL.com
The flight of the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology. Based in Redmond, Washington, magniX is dedicated to connecting communities by enabling an era of clean and affordable commercial air travel with all-electric propulsion. The...
The flight of the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.
Based in Redmond, Washington, magniX is dedicated to connecting communities by enabling an era of clean and affordable commercial air travel with all-electric propulsion. The electric aviation startup has already developed 375HP and 750HP all-electric motors – which produce zero emissions and increased efficiency – and power electronics solutions for various aviation applications.
To achieve this milestone of flight testing the world’s largest all-electric aircraft, MagniX partnered with another Washington-based company, AeroTEC. AeroTEC has a strong track record of bringing products to market quickly, easily and efficiently, using innovative and scalable development, test, and certification techniques.
The successful flight of the eCaravan, magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system, took place at the AeroTEC Flight Test Center at the Grant County International Airport (KMWH) in Moses Lake, Washington on the morning of May 28th. As the world’s largest all-electric commercial aircraft, this is a significant milestone in disrupting the transportation industry and accelerating the electric aviation revolution.
“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports. These electric commercial aircraft will enable the offering of flying services of people and packages in a way previously not possible.”
“I’m proud of the pioneering work performed by our engineers, technicians and flight test team,” said Lee Human, President and CEO of AeroTEC. “There’s no roadmap for testing and certifying electric aircraft – this is a new frontier and AeroTEC is on the front lines developing the processes and best practices that will pave the way for electric aviation.”
The flying of the eCaravan serves as another critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.
The historic flight was captured via livestream and watched by people around the world. Following the flight, a virtual press conference was held in the Test Center’s hangar. To view images, recording of the virtual press conference and videos of the first flight of the world’s largest all-electric aircraft, visit: https://magnix.aero/ecaravan/.
Why it’s important: magniX and AeroTEC are ushering in a new wave of short-haul aviation propulsion technology, which will likely open the doors for various widespread applications in the near future. The success of this test flight demonstrates the availability of electric aviation technology and highlights the fact that technology is no longer a barrier to the implementation of aerial mobility infrastructure; certification, regulation, and public acceptance remain the primary hurdles that the industry faces.
Sources // magniX; PRNewsWire
While a number of aerial mobility companies are focusing on recalibration of their business plans to support weathering challenging financial times, some have opted to pursue a relatively under-publicized avenue for revenue generation: defense contracts. When the United States Air Force announced their Agility Prime Initiative months ago, the thought of an innovation driver for the aerial mobility industry with...
While a number of aerial mobility companies are focusing on recalibration of their business plans to support weathering challenging financial times, some have opted to pursue a relatively under-publicized avenue for revenue generation: defense contracts.
When the United States Air Force announced their Agility Prime Initiative months ago, the thought of an innovation driver for the aerial mobility industry with the potential for real financial backing and an attitude of the USAF towards promotion of aerial mobility technologies that met their standards was one of the more technologically progressive moves that the military has publicized. Oftentimes such initiatives are relegated to private spheres of conversation and dealmaking, understandably for security purposes.
Doing away with the term “eVTOL” and instead opting for the more progressive and imaginative “orb” classification of this future generation of vehicles, Agility Prime has proved a spark amongst an otherwise moderate, quiet, and dedicated pace of progress within the aerial mobility industry.
While there were many key takeaways from AP, one of the more enduring and reinvigorating was the entire approach to solving the problem of hosting a conference that discusses the future of transportation and mobility, during a global pandemic that drove meaningful conversations that advanced the industry. The conference in and of itself was a reflection of the character and mentality required to make the unreal, real.
The structure of Agility Prime features three key Area of Interest (AOI) categories: air race to certification, 1-2 passenger ORBs, and cargo ORBs. These three categories reflect the triad of requirements that the USAF are interested in fulfilling by review of Request for Prototype Proposals (RPPs) as the third phase in their review processes – the first two phases being Solution Briefs and Company Engagement, respectively. Through the process of providing Solution Briefs to the USAF, companies will be analyzed for appropriateness of the Solutions. Those companies with appropriate Solutions move forward with Engagements with the USAF, with the final stage requiring a formal RPP.
Why it’s important: Credit is due to the Agility Prime team for being flexible and adapting when change was needed – their conference was hosted completely virtually, and as such afforded attendees the opportunity to engage regardless of their location or ability to travel safely. This adaptable format is likely the structure that many conferences will take on in the coming months to ensure that connections and information continue to flow as needed, but in a slightly different manner.
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.
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.
EHang Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: EH) has announced new progress in implementing real-world Urban Air Mobility (UAM) applications for medical emergency transport uses to combat the coronavirus outbreak in China. Related: EHang’s IPO Results in $662 Million Valuation In recent exercises for the prevention and control of coronavirus epidemic organized by the local authorities of Hezhou city in Guangxi province, EHang 216, the two-seat passenger-grade AAV...
EHang Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: EH) has announced new progress in implementing real-world Urban Air Mobility (UAM) applications for medical emergency transport uses to combat the coronavirus outbreak in China.
In recent exercises for the prevention and control of coronavirus epidemic organized by the local authorities of Hezhou city in Guangxi province, EHang 216, the two-seat passenger-grade AAV successfully transported medical supplies from Hezhou Square to the Hezhou People’s Hospital, which is 4 kilometers apart, by accurately landing on a 25-story rooftop of the hospital.
The EHang 216 AAV autonomously returned following the delivery. The 8-kilometer round-trip flight operation was unmanned which is critical in current epidemic situation. This has opened up a new opportunity for EHang’s AAVs in immediate UAM applications such as medical emergency transport, which currently largely relies on ambulance cars or helicopters.
More importantly, designed as a passenger-grade AAV, EHang 216 can not only transport medical supplies, but also transport personnel in emergency situations. Edward Xu, EHang’s Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), took a 4-kilometer autonomous flight from the city center and landed safely on the rooftop of the hospital (picture below) in one of the series of urban passenger-carrying flights to test run this use case in Hezhou, including the flights at nights, with the range covering the whole city (over 15 kilometers) and at a cruising speed as high as 90 kilometers per hour.
“Personally, I’m proud to be one of the passengers to take the initial autonomous flights for medical emergency transport, and enjoyed the safe, fast and smooth journey. In urban emergency situation, this enables people or goods to be transported efficiently across the city in nearly straight-line routes. More importantly, as a passenger, I was free to enjoy my tea and urban scenery during the whole flight as everything was automatically piloted,” said Edward. “Such successful flights have demonstrated EHang’s capabilities in delivering safe and high quality AAVs to meet mission-critical demands in real life. We will continue to implement more UAM applications.”
Why it’s important: From surveillance to medical supply deliveries, China has deployed many cutting edge technologies in support of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. EHang has proven the ability of its 216 eVTOL to support in these critical circumstances, and is not the first demonstration of aerial mobility technology being used in real-world medical support applications. An increase in the variety of successful executions of urban air mobility technology continues to advance the mobility industry and expand what many have thought possible for the utility of these vehicles.
The United States Air Force plans to release a solicitation for its Agility Prime program: an exchange of government resources in exchange for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential buyouts of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program for the USAF, as an increasing number of military organizations across...
The United States Air Force plans to release a solicitation for its Agility Prime program: an exchange of government resources in exchange for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential buyouts of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program for the USAF, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more and more interested in applications of aerial mobility technology as supplemental (and eventually in replacement of) current mobility offerings for both manned and unmanned missions.
USAF Acquisition Chief, Dr. Will Roper, told reporters of the Prime Project: “It’s going to be a challenge-based acquisition plan, so we’ll have different durations of flight and payloads that have to be carried. And if you pass the hurdle then you’ll move further down the wickets of getting safety certified by the Air Force and moving on to a procurement contract.”
Dr. Roper also added that the intent of the project was to identify candidates that can conduct repeatable and regular flights of their eVTOL designs “in 2020” meaning that companies searching for seed funding, or that were earlier on the in preliminary design phases wouldn’t be ideally suited for Agility Prime.
Avionics International reports on the specific requirements the USAF has established for participating aircraft: “Aircraft applying to participate must make their first full-scale flight prior to December 17, 2020, and be capable of carrying 3-8 personnel greater than 100 miles at speeds exceeding 100 mph, with an endurance over 60 minutes — capabilities that very few currently-flying eVTOLs claim to have.”
Additionally, Agility Prime serves as an early certification pathway for many aerial mobility companies, which could potentially aid in speeding the certification process for civilian flight operations – a commonly cited hurdle in successful deployment of commercial air taxi operations. Economic validations will be conducted on the following five topics (and these criteria will be evaluated against the claim of aerial mobility becoming a more efficient means of transport than any existing medium today)”
- Lower maintenance cost due to simplified mechanical design
- Improved safety and declining personnel demands, using autonomy
- Affordable quantity, based on potential mass production
- Improved acoustics, employing distributed propulsion
- Greater flexibility and reduced infrastructure needs, with runway independence
Why it’s important: The Agility Prime program represents a large commitment from the USAF to be at the forefront of aerial mobility technology, while also serving as a method of benefit for existing eVTOL manufacturers. The offering of test ranges and Air Force certification processes represents one fo the largest tangible commitments by a large government agency to advance the aerial mobility industry to date. While the USAF’s funding is unconfirmed, reports from various independent news outlets state that the USAF has achieved the necessary funding to commence its solicitation.
Expo 2020 Dubai and Jetman Dubai have accomplished another world first in their quest to achieve 100 percent autonomous human flight: a take-off from the ground, transitioning into a high-altitude flight. On Friday February 14th, Jetman pilot Vince Reffet successfully launched into the air from the runway of Skydive Dubai and flew up to an altitude of 1,800 meters. This...
Expo 2020 Dubai and Jetman Dubai have accomplished another world first in their quest to achieve 100 percent autonomous human flight: a take-off from the ground, transitioning into a high-altitude flight.
On Friday February 14th, Jetman pilot Vince Reffet successfully launched into the air from the runway of Skydive Dubai and flew up to an altitude of 1,800 meters. This milestone proved that Jetmen can now fly directly upwards from a standing start without the need for an elevated platform or helicopter drop.
For both flights, Reffet was equipped with a carbon fiber wing powered by four mini jet engines. Controlled by the human body, the equipment enables the Jetman to reach speeds of 400kmh, as well as hovering, changing direction and performing loops. A manually controlled thrust vectoring nozzle allows the pilot to control rotations around the yaw axis at zero speeds, making human control of the wing possible in all flight phases without the aid of any electronic stabilization systems.
Previously, Jetmen have launched into the air by leaping downwards off elevated platforms such as a helicopter in flight. This included a jaw-dropping stunt in late 2019 – also part of Expo 2020’s Mission: Human Flight program – as Reffet and fellow Jetman Fred Fugen soared through Tianmen Cave (aka ‘Heaven’s Gate’) in China’s Hunan Province. Additionally, this is the first time that a Jetman pilot has combined hovering safely at a low altitude and flying aerobatics at a high altitude in the same flight.
Research supported by Expo 2020 Dubai has also focused on drastic risk reduction by studying speed profiles, engine parameters and flight attitudes. Should an engine failure have occurred at low altitude, Reffet was backed by a pyrotechnic safety parachute that reduces the critical phase of his flight to four seconds (when his altitude is between five and 50m). Jetman places a high priority on safety during these stunts, and claims “no fewer than 50 preparatory flights were conducted – comprising more than 100 take-offs and landings under a cable and with the safety of a fall arresting system, as well as in-flight tests next to a helicopter.”
Shortly after his landing, Vince Reffet commented: “We are so happy we achieved this incredible flight. It’s the result of extremely thorough teamwork, where each small step generated huge results. Everything was planned to the split second, and I was overjoyed by the progress that was achieved. It is another step in a long-term project. One of the next objectives is to land back on the ground after a flight at altitude, without needing to open a parachute. It’s being worked on.”
Why it’s important: Jetman has achieved and impressive and eye-catching milestone, but does not plan on stopping here. Development will continue in the coming months, and Ahmed Alshehhi, the first Emirati Jetman, continues to train as the UAE prepares to welcome 192 nations and millions of global visitors for Expo 2020 Dubai (from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021).
Source // Jetman
Due to the increased regulatory requirements involving autonomous flight, Mark Moore, Uber’s engineering director for aircraft systems, says he expects piloted eVTOL aircraft before autonomous drone package deliveries. “[Aerial mobility] with pilots will happen way before you will get anything delivered in your backyard,” Moore explained at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California on 29 January. “Autonomous flight is really hard. Having...
Due to the increased regulatory requirements involving autonomous flight, Mark Moore, Uber’s engineering director for aircraft systems, says he expects piloted eVTOL aircraft before autonomous drone package deliveries. “[Aerial mobility] with pilots will happen way before you will get anything delivered in your backyard,” Moore explained at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California on 29 January. “Autonomous flight is really hard. Having a pilot in the vehicle makes a huge difference in terms of the regulatory environment.”
While several companies are planning to release aerial rideshare services, there aren’t many that plan to start off with autonomous services. Uber itself is currently partnering with eight eVTOL aircraft manufacturers, and plans to launch its aerial ridesharing networks in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia by 2023 under the name of Uber Elevate. While Uber touched on the possibility of autonomous flight, for now, nothing is announced. However, Uber remains ambitious in their plan to incorporate eVTOL technology into their ridesharing services. Just recently, Uber announced partnerships with both Hyundai and Joby Aviation in an ongoing effort to polish up their aerial rideshare service by 2023.
Uber, Wing, and UPS have also begun limited tests of using delivery drones in the US. “We are already doing small package delivery for Uber Eats – it’s all about the critical path to enabling it,” said Moore, ”Fully autonomous flight is really hard, and needs an evolution to happen.” The FAA and other regulatory agencies are in the process of establishing rules and best practices for unmanned aerial vehicles. Similar tests are being conducted or are planned in other countries as well, including Switzerland and Japan.
Why it’s important: Moore makes a strong point, especially as several other eVTOL aircraft manufacturers are beginning to introduce autonomous flight control technology into their products. While autonomous flight could potentially protect against human error and enable a wider array of missions in difficult flying conditions, the manufacturers and the FAA must first reach an accord to establish a uniform set of safety standards in the US.
Source // FlightGlobal
Public and regulatory preparedness for aerial mobility are two of the top priorities for seamlessly integrating the rapidly developing technology in to the current global infrastructure. Following the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao shared some thoughts about how the United States—specifically, the Federal Aviation Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation— is...
Public and regulatory preparedness for aerial mobility are two of the top priorities for seamlessly integrating the rapidly developing technology in to the current global infrastructure. Following the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao shared some thoughts about how the United States—specifically, the Federal Aviation Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation— is approaching this technology. The following is an excerpt from the discussion:
“First, as with every other mode of transportation, safety is our Number One priority. UAM aircraft, and the infrastructure that supports these novel operations, will require a level of safety commensurate with the complexity of any operation that engages in passenger carriage for hire. So the commercial availability of UAM technology in the United States will depend upon companies developing robust, reliable, and technically capable designs that have been shown to be compliant with the applicable airworthiness and safety regulations.
“As you know, Urban Air Mobility vehicles are not helicopters or scaled-up drones. They are complex systems involving infrastructure, new systems and new aircraft. A segregated approach to airspace integration may work for initial, low-volume operations resembling existing helicopter corridors in large urban areas. But a long-term solution that accommodates hundreds- if not thousands- of these air vehicles operating simultaneously over urban landscapes is a complex challenge. It will involve advanced concepts in Air Traffic Management Systems and Trajectory Based Operations, to name a few.
“The Department’s FAA will be working with state and local governments and stakeholders over the next two years to define the requirements for these unique types of operations. Let me note that, consistent with this Administration’s approach to new technologies, the FAA has shifted from prescriptive rules to performance-based regulations. This approach will ensure that, as UAM technology and operations evolve, federal regulations will strengthen safety but be agile enough to grow with the technology. The Department will continue to work with industry stakeholders to identify the challenges, gaps, and opportunities associated with UAM.
“Let me add one more thought to this discussion. To be fully deployed, UAM technology must first win the public’s trust and acceptance. UAM systems will be flying directly over– and landing near– neighborhoods and workplaces. So it is imperative that the public’s legitimate concerns about safety, security, noise and privacy be addressed. I challenge the UAM industry to step up, and educate communities about the benefits of this new technology and win their trust. It is critical to ensuring that UAM technology reaches its full potential.”
Why it’s important: These vehicles have the potential to create new mobility options for millions and change how people travel to and around cities, as well as to and from rural areas. This potential has stimulated billions of dollars of investment in UAM technology, as well as first-of-its-kind roundtable discussions with urban air mobility leaders and advocates, as took place at CES 2020.
Source // U.S. Department of Transportation
On January 13, The Transportation Research Board hosted a panel discussion with senior transportation officials to talk about automation technology in the transportation space. Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined two deputy assistant Transportation secretaries to talk about various new technologies and the rulemaking processes governing them. The panelists discussed automated driving...
On January 13, The Transportation Research Board hosted a panel discussion with senior transportation officials to talk about automation technology in the transportation space. Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined two deputy assistant Transportation secretaries to talk about various new technologies and the rulemaking processes governing them. The panelists discussed automated driving systems, self-driving cars, unmanned aircraft systems, and the spectrum allocation for these new technologies.
At the gathering, Jay Merkle, the Executive Director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office, spoke to the panel regarding the future of aerial mobility, as well as what is happening in the present day:
“As I mentioned, these are aircraft that fill that void from 30 miles to 300 miles, between the small drones and the commercial aircraft we know today. And probably the biggest question I get on this is, is this real? Are they really happening? Yes, this is more than just hype. This is more than just promotional videos. We have at least six aircraft well along in their type certification, which is the first step in introducing the new aircraft into operation. We are beginning to work on integrating them operationally, so the pilot requirements, the airline operating requirements, and then were also beginning to work on the air space integration as well.”
“The biggest lesson learned out of all of this work has not been the underlying technology, but it’s really been how do we engage the public and help them embrace these very innovative technologies?”
“To that end, we are continuing and starting to work on community engagement. This will be a particularly new challenge for us … these urban air mobility vehicles tend to be electric driven and have tremendous power requirements for recharging. There are problems that I should say, there are needs to solve certain problems, associated with getting people to and from these aircraft. The best example is they want to use space on top of existing buildings, as landing areas. And most elevators don’t go to the roof. So they will have to redesign elevators to get passengers up to those areas. And to get them up there safely, and without interrupting other activities. So this is a brief overview of all of the very exciting and innovative things that are going on in aviation today. And I think it matches well with what we’re seeing emerge in the surface transportation areas, and the other areas of research.”
Why it’s important: In order to expand the scope of current regulations and infrastructural development, the Transportation Research Board is looking to the experience and knowledge the FAA has already begun to gather regarding the emerging aerial mobility sector. Regulators are making available ample resources to aerial mobility vehicle manufacturers and operators, which has led – and will continue to lead – to the growth of the industry and increased public awareness.
Source // C-SPAN
Out of the numerous reveals at CES 2020 came an important update regarding the future of automated air transportation in the United States. US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the fourth iteration of the federal automated vehicle policy at CES 2020. The “Automated Vehicles 4.0: Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies” lays down the guidelines set by the...
Out of the numerous reveals at CES 2020 came an important update regarding the future of automated air transportation in the United States.
US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the fourth iteration of the federal automated vehicle policy at CES 2020. The “Automated Vehicles 4.0: Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies” lays down the guidelines set by the federal government for 38 government agencies, departments, commissions and others. According to Chao, the intent of the policy is aimed at “maintaining highway safety while allowing development on AVs to flourish.”
The policy, called AV 4.0 for short, adheres to three key principles, according to Chao. Protect users and communities by prioritizing safety and emphasizing cybersecurity and privacy. Promoting efficient markets by protecting American intellectual property and streamlining regulations. And finally to facilitate coordinated efforts to ensure a consistent federal approach among the agencies and other bodies. “The takeaway from AV 4.0 is that the federal government is all in for safer, better and more inclusive transportation, aided by automated driving systems,” said Chao.
Regarding a subject related to aerial mobility, the Federal Aviation Administration recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking for remote identification of drones, which has “significant security implications” for the industry. Occurrences of “mystery drones” flying at night over Nebraska and Colorado provide a timely reminder of the need for this system, according to Chao.
Why it’s important: US federal automated vehicle policy is further defined, as autonomous air vehicle testing in North Carolina, USA, and artificial intelligence plans for remotely operated vehicles have new policies to follow. As many air taxi rideshare services plan to offer automated services either immediately or in the future, the guidelines set by AV 4.0 will have important implications for the enactment of their services.
Source // Vision Systems Design