CycloTech’s air taxi is the only eVTOL in development that may use a marine-inspired propulsion system. This propulsion system is key to the company’s claimed competitive advantage, as it could make flight both smoother for passengers and more efficient.
Most recently, the Austrian-based company announced that it has begun assembly of its physical flight demonstration prototype. According to CycloTech, testing of all components, including the flight control system, should be complete by the end of October. In November and December, CycloTech will perform full system tests on the static test bench and then take-offs and hover flights on a dynamic test bench (demonstrator on a pole). A statement by CycloTech said, “By the end of the year, the demonstrator should be capable of slow movements through our test hall”. In the first half of next year, CycloTech will increase flight test speeds and transition to outdoor flight.
According to CycloTech, its unique value proposition is the marine-inspired Cyclogyro rotor. This unique rotor consists of multiple blades set around centrally-mounted hub, which can rotate to any 360-degree direction. Changing the position of this hub controls the direction of thrust, which can then be set in any 360-degree direction. This makes all kinds of flight directions possible without a traditional fixed-rotor setup, as seen in other kinds of aerial mobility aircraft. Changes in thrust positioning can be made instantly, and each rotor set can be individually controlled. CycloTech hopes to also sell this technology to other aircraft manufacturers in urban air mobility as part of auxiliary systems packages.
Like many aerial mobility companies (such as EHang), CycloTech plans to initially enter the market with a smaller-scale ‘high maneuverability’ drone, purposed for inspection of critical infrastructure in areas that are difficult to reach with land vehicles. According to CycloTech, “This will basically be a conventional drone with additional Cyclogyro rotors as auxiliary system to enhance agility and gust compensation in rough conditions for high precision maneuvering in wind speeds >20m/s.”
Why it’s important: CycloTech’s latest release has twofold significance. First, CycloTech is taking part in a growing market trend to develop unmanned drones for initial market entry, before passenger aircraft. In our recent podcast with Harrison Wolf, Project Lead of Drones and Aerospace at the World Economic Forum, Harrison discusses why this tactic may help new companies enter. Also notable is CycloTech’s unique 360-degree propulsion design. While unique in its concept, this propulsion system could turn out to have an excellent market application in all aerial mobility vehicles. Stay tuned for test results from the fully assembled technology demonstrator once complete.