UAVOS, a Silicon Valley based company that manufactures aerial, terrestrial and aquatic unmanned vehicle solutions for commercial, industrial and defense purposes, has unveiled a semi-autonomous passenger air taxi concept. The final version of the aircraft will seat a pilot plus four passengers, and will have an all-electric range of about 113 miles.
The vehicle is made up of a large front to back two-rotor set, to which the passenger module is attached. Similar to Airbus and Audi’s Pop.Up model, the passenger cabin can be detached from the rotor set module and re-attached to a road car module, so that passengers can transition directly from flight to driving on city streets. Notably, aside from the Pop.Up or the Terrafugia TF-2, the SumoAir is the only air vehicle featuring this modularity concept.
According to UAVOS, the SumoAir project is a part of its R&D efforts to explore and understand the fundamental technologies behind electric aircraft and the urban air mobility (UAM) market. While UAVOS already has a fair amount of expertise in developing unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes, the SumoAir would be its first passenger-carrying vehicle. The SumoAir is can be piloted manually or flown with complete autonomy if regulations allow.
UAVOS CEO and Lead Developer Aliaksei Stratsilatau believes that beyond regulations, safety and cost, factors affecting aerial mobility development will also include integration between the aviation, automotive, telecom, software, cybersecurity real estate industries. He says, “By 2030, 43 cities will be home to over 10 million people. In congested cities such as Los Angeles and Moscow, commuters spend nearly 100 hours a year in traffic jams. We expect autonomous flying will definitely ease the traffic burden on city roads.”
Why it’s important: UAVOS has a unique concept in the aircraft’s modular design, which would allow passengers to transfer from aerial to street travel with great ease. Although it is yet unclear whether this design will win out over aircraft without this added complexity, UAVOS’s experience in UAV creation may give it the edge it needs to make this concept a reality. Also notable is SumoAir’s ability to auto-rotate in an emergency situation, which other air taxis with smaller rotors may not have.