Hangzhou, China – based Geely Automotive may seem to be just another well-performing car manufacturer. In reality, their stake and exposure to the flying car market is much stronger and more developed than many automakers. Having posted growth in 2017 of 108%, Geely is expanding extremely rapidly, and a number of acquisitions have accompanied this expansion. First, it was the...
Hangzhou, China – based Geely Automotive may seem to be just another well-performing car manufacturer. In reality, their stake and exposure to the flying car market is much stronger and more developed than many automakers.
Having posted growth in 2017 of 108%, Geely is expanding extremely rapidly, and a number of acquisitions have accompanied this expansion. First, it was the so-called “Daimler deal” that made Chairman of Geely Li Shufu the single largest shareholder of Mercedes-Benz. His share is estimated at $9 billion. The deal was large enough to cause internal investigations and gain the German Government’s curiosity. Li already owns Volvo and part of AB Volo, their commercial vehicles company.
But Geely also sought to expand toward the flying car market. In mid-November 2017, Geely purchased American flying car upstart Terrafugia, and promptly promised a flying car by 2019. Terrafugia is currently marketing their Transition, which is an entry-level flying car, but plans to leverage their experience and develop a new model, dubbed the TF-X, within the next coming years. The Terrafugia is planned to enter market in 2019, and the TF-X in 2023.
Why it’s important: While the story of Geely’s growth and subsequent acquisitions of new companies is nothing new, what’s notable is their inclusion of a flying car company (Terrafugia) in the acquisition list. This transaction underscores the importance that many automakers are placing on becoming magnates in the flying car market, and demonstrates that real commitments are being made to gain a piece of the industry.
- Image Credit: Terrafugia
On October 28th through 30th in Las Vegas, Nevada, industry experts and stakeholders throughout the UAV industry will meet and gather to push the industry forward. The 5th Annual Commercial UAV Expo, October 28-30 in Las Vegas, has become the industry’s biggest gathering where attendees can see the latest innovations and applications of commercial drone technology and a glimpse into the...
On October 28th through 30th in Las Vegas, Nevada, industry experts and stakeholders throughout the UAV industry will meet and gather to push the industry forward.
The 5th Annual Commercial UAV Expo, October 28-30 in Las Vegas, has become the industry’s biggest gathering where attendees can see the latest innovations and applications of commercial drone technology and a glimpse into the future of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). In addition to 190 of the world’s top UAS vendors along with 2,500+ attendees from 60 nations, keynoters include Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator and Bala Ganesh, VP Advanced Technology Group at UPS who will discuss urban air mobility and package delivery. Speakers from Uber, Urban Air Mobility News and many UAS CEOs will highlight the sessions. Live Outdoor Flying Demonstrations, Workshops and Demo Room presentations are set to provide attendees with a real sense of how the present and future of the UAS industry is taking shape, both in the Americas and globally.
The Expo is one of the largest in the world for commercial UAV applications. Among the attendees are exhibitors and stakeholders of construction, energy & utilities, forestry & agriculture, infrastructure & transportation, public safety & emergency services, security, surveying & mapping, and more. Read the full list of exhibitors here.
As part of the conference, UAV industry experts will share key insights into the issues asset owners face when implementing unmanned aerial systems, including systems selection and integration; developing enterprise workflows, guidelines and policies; data management and integration; and legal, safety and regulatory considerations. Plenary sessions and panels cover topics of interest to all end-users regardless of industry, while breakout sessions focus on UAV technology, applications and opportunities in the various UAS applicable markets.
Anyone who is interested in furthering the UAV industry or already has a company invested in UAV technology will have an opportunity to collaborate and meet with experts from all areas of the field. The Expo is free to attendees who register by October 27. Register for the conference here.
Why it’s important: The Commercial UAV expo represents one of the world’s largest gatherings of UAV industry experts and proponent companies. While larger vehicles are in development, the emergence of UAV technology for commercial applications sets the groundwork for for urban aerial mobility, putting the beginnings of this technology to the test and showing its potential.
Sources: Commercial UAV Expo Las Vegas
EHang and Azerbaijan Airlines join to manage UAV traffic at Heydar Aliyev International. The agreement was signed on October 9, 2019 in Baku by EHang Founder, Chairman and CEO Huazhi Hu and Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) President Jahangir Asgarov. EHang has recently made signficant strides in advancing the operations and implementation of its cutting-edge autonomous air vehicle (AAV) technologies, and is...
EHang and Azerbaijan Airlines join to manage UAV traffic at Heydar Aliyev International.
The agreement was signed on October 9, 2019 in Baku by EHang Founder, Chairman and CEO Huazhi Hu and Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) President Jahangir Asgarov.
EHang has recently made signficant strides in advancing the operations and implementation of its cutting-edge autonomous air vehicle (AAV) technologies, and is now considering filing for a U.S. initial public offering (IPO). The company continues to seek worldwide opportunities to increase deliveries of vehicles and begin flights in cities, proven by over 100 passenger-carrying autonomous test flights.
The command-and-control center will allow Azerbaijan Air Navigation Services (AZANS), the air navigation services provider for the Republic of Azerbaijan, to control UAV traffic on the airport’s premises and prevent the unauthorized use of UAVs. It will be fully integrated with the Azerbaijani air traffic control system, serving more than 500 aircraft daily, 300 of which are transit flights over Azerbaijan.
The command-and-control center will also equip AZANS with technologies including 3D mapping and terrain scanning to support airfield design and aerial navigation map development. A future web application could include UAV and pilot registration information, certification documents and permissions for flight procedures. As part of the agreement, EHang will also train UAV specialists at the National Academy of Aviation of Azerbaijan and build a UAV management simulator complex.
“UAVs represent a significant opportunity to optimize airport operations, but it is important to launch them into the right infrastructural framework,” said Hu Huazhi. “Our command-and-control center enables the seamless integration of new aerial mobility options into existing air traffic patterns and we are excited to partner with AZANS on this project, which paves the way for future partnerships with aviation authorities globally.”
Why it’s important: Heydar Aliyev International Airport has set a convincing precedent as it recently became the first airport in the world to completely switch to Cloud technologies. Now, the implementation of a UAV traffic management system further demonstrates ways by which airports can prepare for technological advancements in aviation and airspace management.
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market? This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet...
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market?
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission.
Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet buyers, some have speculated this partnership will produce a “flying sports car.”
So are Porsche and Boeing going to build personal vehicles for the high net worth crowd? Porsche might have an interest in building such a car to promote their brand. It could look like targeting a segment of the supercar market without the potential for cannibalizing existing sales. However, if the alliance follows the economic interests of both parties, this alliance will focus on creating fleet aircraft with a healthy dose of performance and luxury cues for the wealthy.
There will be a flying sports car market for individuals who wish to fly (and drive) the vehicle themselves. Terrafugia, AeroMobil, and PAL-V have vehicles in process targeting this market. These flying cars have list prices starting at $200,000 and can cost more than $1,200,000. Flying sports cars could change travel patterns to vacation homes or eventually even work in certain circumstances. They will probably represent an offshoot of the supercar market or the very top end of the car market.
I can’t wait to fly one, but the market in units will be relatively small for affordability reasons. Think thousands of units per year. The entire luxury car market in the U.S. will be about $10 billion in 2019, but nearly all of that market is for cars below $150,000. Jonathan Carrier, Vice President of Corporate Development for AeroMobil validates this point, “The total addressable market for flying cars above $500,000 is perhaps 10,000 units by 2030, but realistically the privately-owned market will total 1000 units per year. Supercar market dynamics will be key: exclusivity, performance and customer experience.”
Fleet models can drive the cost to enter the UAM market much lower than the alternatives and thereby stimulate the market. Instead of paying $200,000 plus upfront for a personal air vehicle, even if it isn’t a flying sports car, wealthy individuals could pay a reasonable cost per trip. Not surprisingly, Porsche Consulting suggests the overall eVtol market will total $32B market, by 2035.
However, even a fleet UAM model with high levels of utilization and seat occupancy won’t immediately support massive substitution for auto traffic. Today, driving a large sedan, the type of vehicle that a black car service might use, costs around about $0.72 per vehicle mile. At an average occupancy of 1.67 people (not including the driver), the cost per seat mile falls to $0.43/seat mile. (Of course, for a black car service the cost would be much higher to pay for the driver.) At Elevate this year, Uber predicted that at inception UAM cost per seat mile will exceed $5.70 per seat mile. At scale Uber projects a cost of $1.86 per seat mile for a UAM with all four seats occupied. These estimates assume the UAM programs hit their targets and don’t take into account that the same technical innovations that make the decline in seat miles costs for UAM possible will also drive down the cost per seat mile of automobiles.
The superior operating economics for fleets, the high purchase costs for personal UAM vehicles and the time and effort required to get a pilot’s license will ensure that UAM manufacturers sell many fleet vehicles for every personal vehicle they sell. As a result, fleet vehicles should become the priority in Boeing’s and Porsche’s joint capital investment plans.
Market Sizing and Who Will Fly in UAM Vehicles
The fleet market for UAM vehicles will grow off the base of UAM applications that helicopters fill today and then into the black car market. After years of dormancy, the commuter helicopter business has started to grow with Voom creating a moderate success in Sao Paolo and Mexico City and Blade building a nice business in New York. Uber recently joined the fray by starting services in New York and has announced service in the Bay Area. Helicopters currently cost around $1,200 per flight hour to operate, or between $9-10 per seat mile for a six-passenger aircraft. That is 70-80% more than Uber’s projections for its initial UAM service for a four-passenger aircraft (depending on whether you measure by cost per flight hour or cost per seat mile basis). Cutting that much cost could cause these markets to grow by three times or more. Most of these customers will come from more expensive car services. Uber Black, for example, typically costs over three times UberX and as UAM costs fall some black car customers will naturally choose to step up.
People often use helicopter services even though it costs more and doesn’t always save time. Recently, The Drive echoed the classic New York Times taxi helicopter race article from the 1970s using Uber’s new helicopter service to go to JFK. Their case study showed that public transport took less time than Uber’s service while acknowledging times might vary depending on the complexity of multi-model connections. In the Bloomberg version, the rider in the helicopter spent $364 for two people and took 43 minutes to arrive despite the eight-minute flight time. In the end, the attractiveness of the service from a functional standpoint will probably depend on the time of day, which drives traffic congestion, and the proximity of the origin or destination to the helipad. However, in addition to these specific time and geographic advantages, helicopter services have also grown because they are a premium product.
The Role of Performance Cues and Customer Experience
Today, helicopter service is a product for those with very high budgets. In the future, however, the people who will use these services might look a lot like people who buy one of Porsche’s more affordable sports cars. Wealthier individuals who value their time and businesspeople in a rush value premium experiences and status. Less hassle, lounges, and priority boarding remain valuable in commercial aviation even in the era of low-cost airlines, and these needs are often reflected in customer experience design for services like Blade. Not surprisingly, Porsche has worked with Delta Private Jets on the ground leg of private jet trips to create seamless, premium experiences.
Unlike the commercial aviation market where airlines (for example Eos and Max Jet) were not able to successfully customize entire aircraft to premium segments, vehicle design will likely play an important role for fleet UAM models. On the one hand, wealthy clients will continue to find exclusivity, performance cues, and luxury design attractive just as they do in the luxury car market. Exclusivity will be far more important in the UAM market than in the commercial aviation markets due to the small size of the aircraft and the more intimate nature of the experience. The risk associated with some of the well-publicized ride-sharing challenges JetSmarter faced in the private jet market, always an aspirational area for the well-to-do, will only intensify these concerns.
Similarly, while the well-off UAM customer might not have the money for a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a flying sports car and they may not personally fly their UAM vehicle, they will not want to fly in the UAM equivalent of a Yugo. For proof points beyond cars, competition in the private jet market is again instructive. One could argue that flight speed makes little practical difference for most private flights (except perhaps by increasing fuel bills), but nonetheless, it remains an important differentiating feature for private jets. Interiors also play a key role in differentiating for private aviation and Porsche Design Studio has worked in this area previously to leverage its expertise from autos. On the other hand, fleet operators also care deeply about the cost of operation, so fleet UAM will use these cues while controlling operating costs.
Only Porsche has strong economic motives to pursue the personal market. Small market sizes shouldn’t create an impediment for them. It is a complement to what they already have and they have effectively pursued analogous strategies in the auto market. Boeing has less at stake in terms of brand connection to a high-end flying sports car and its BBJ business is of less relative importance financially. In the BBJ business, for example, the interior design is done by third parties like GDC Technics.
Both parties do have a significant interest in the fleet market. UAM will probably start from a base where it serves a relatively small core market of wealthy individuals and business people that prefer UAM service to expensive car transport options. That will represent a new, attractive market for both Porsche and Boeing. While initial market sizing estimates for UAM might seem aggressive without lower costs, over time the market will grow. Whoever wins the initial premium market will have a great market position in an attractive segment and a strong, aspirational brand it can take to the mass market. Porsche represents a great starting point either as an ingredient brand to the long-term UAM brand or as a UAM brand on its own. As noted above, the vehicle will need a luxury, performance-oriented design to go with the premium services. Porsche is the perfect partner to help Boeing get there on both of these dimensions and Boeing can provide the expertise to make it fly.
Vertical Aerospace becomes the first company in the world to unveil flight footage of an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying 250kg – the equivalent of a pilot and two passengers. Bristol-based startup Vertical Aerospace has revealed flight footage of an electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) capable of carrying loads of up to 250kg – the first company...
Vertical Aerospace becomes the first company in the world to unveil flight footage of an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying 250kg – the equivalent of a pilot and two passengers.
Bristol-based startup Vertical Aerospace has revealed flight footage of an electric vertical take off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) capable of carrying loads of up to 250kg – the first company in the world to do so. The prototype, named Seraph, completed its maiden flight at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales on August 22. It follows the successful flight of Vertical Aerospace’s first full-scale prototype in May 2018, the UK’s first eVTOL aircraft to be granted flight permission by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Vertical Aerospace is working closely with global aviation regulators, including EASA, to achieve certification for
Vertical Aerospace’s mission is to make air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free. Founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick, the team has grown to more than 70 world-class engineers and technical experts, recruited from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and Formula 1. By combining aerospace engineering excellence with new technologies from Formula 1, Vertical Aerospace hopes to help decarbonize the trillion dollar commercial aviation industry and provide a new mode of city-to-city passenger transport.
The Seraph was built to test new technologies and systems for integration into Vertical Aerospace’s upcoming passenger model, due to be unveiled next year. The aircraft is capable of carrying loads of up to 250kg and can reach speeds of up to 80km per hour. It features a unique passive cooling system and a customizable design, meaning it can be made larger or smaller, or fitted with wheels or floats to facilitate water landings. With the Seraph, Vertical Aerospace’s team has further developed concepts from its first aircraft and built in capabilities which will be critical for attaining certification from aviation authorities.
“Today is another major milestone on the path towards carbon free flight. One year ago, we flew a full scale electric VTOL aircraft, the UK’s first. Today, we’re revealing flight footage of our second full scale prototype, the Seraph, an air taxi prototype capable of carrying 250kg. Air travel is one of the worst contributors to climate change and among the slowest sectors to decarbonize. Our mission at Vertical Aerospace is to make personal, on demand and carbon free flight a reality.” –Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace.
The successful test flight comes as Vertical Aerospace announces the acquisition of MGI, an F1 engineering consultancy led by British motorsport veteran Mike Gascoyne. Gascoyne and his team of 20 specialists will form Vertical Advanced Engineering, bringing the total Vertical team up to more than 70 members. The team bring decades of experience building high performance vehicles for Formula 1 and Formula E, having worked with international racing teams including Williams, McLaren, Tyrell, Benetton, Renault and Lotus. They will apply the latest technologies and agile processes from F1 to the development of eVTOL aircraft, including for example, best practice in building fast, light-weight composite structures. The acquisition will allow Vertical Aerospace to accelerate the development of its eVTOL technology, bringing superior certified aircraft to market more quickly.
“We have long believed that the technologies and approaches from Formula 1 could be applied to a range of engineering challenges. Vertical Aerospace’s vision provides a fantastic outlet for our experience and a unique opportunity to shape the future of flight.Joining the Vertical team will allow us to work on cutting edge engineering programs while continuing to provide world-class consultancy services to the wider engineering community.” –Mike Gascoyne, CTO of Vertical Advanced Engineering
Working closely with global aviation regulators, including EASA, Vertical Aerospace will begin with piloted air taxi services on city-to-city routes. Over time, as the technology and regulatory framework develops, it will expand the number of chartered routes served, introduce elements of autonomy, and ultimately, make completely on-demand air taxis a reality. The company has already begun the certification process for its next model, a passenger aircraft due to be unveiled next year.
Why it matters: Vertical Aerospace’s Seraph represents a major breakthrough in prototype eVTOLs. The company has been steadily working on the Seraph since its first prototype in May 2018, and has proved its significant potential with the latest 250kg capable flights. Vertical Aerospace’s announcement is important not only for the company itself, but is also an indicator of the vast improvement and progress being made in the aerial mobility as a whole.
Workhorse plans to partner with USOG for pilot programs and drone delivery of medical supplies. USOG (Unmanned Systems Operations Group, Inc), a unmanned mobile medical delivery logistics firm and Workhorse, a tech company focused on electric-mobility platforms seem to be a perfect fit as the two intend to deliver medical supplies via drones. The two companies have launched an initial...
Workhorse plans to partner with USOG for pilot programs and drone delivery of medical supplies.
USOG (Unmanned Systems Operations Group, Inc), a unmanned mobile medical delivery logistics firm and Workhorse, a tech company focused on electric-mobility platforms seem to be a perfect fit as the two intend to deliver medical supplies via drones. The two companies have launched an initial pilot program in the San Diego area and intend to to provide programs for healthcare providers, pharmacies, and medical courier services. The training will help run Workhorse’s HorseFly program, a fully functional drone delivery system.
HorseFly is a fully integrated delivery system that interfaces with the company’s NGEN electric delivery vehciles. The system is completely custom built and uses a high-efficiency UAV. USOG will offer the personal necessary to monitor multiple UAV flights while customers will be able to track the real-time delivery through an app. The app will real-time information such as the package’s location, vehicle status, and onboard video.
“USOG’s vision is to enable nationwide medical deliveries by UAV, and we couldn’t think of a better application for our HorseFly system,” said Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes. “We look forward to working closely with USOG as well as with the FAA and other key stakeholders on safe, secure, and timely deliveries in addition to maintaining patient privacy. While we recognize the immediate benefits of utilizing our technology in such a vital application, we’re also excited about the possibilities these types of deliveries can represent across a variety of industries and use cases on a much larger scale. As the only U.S. patented truck drone-launched system, we believe we are in an excellent position to take share in a number of nascent delivery markets.”
“This partnership represents a game-changing opportunity the broader medical field, which could set a new standard for more effective and timely patient treatment options empowered by drone logistics,” added USOG CEO Pharns Genece. “Workhorse has already delivered a complete system to us, and we are well-positioned to take advantage the FAA IPP program in the near term. Going forward, we will look to expand our work with innovative companies in one of the largest medical markets in the U.S. Our role in the chain of custody, when delivering or moving any medical cargo, is for our customers to be the number one priority. With Workhorse and its HorseFly™ system, we believe we’ll be able to save more lives through the secure and timely delivery of medical assets via unmanned systems.”
Why it matters: The development of a multi-mode delivery system (including UAV) will ultimately offer better healthcare services for customers around the globe. Further, this partnership clearly indicates widespread commercial applications of UAV technologies are closer than we think. With the launching of pilot training programs and FAA operation certifications, the timeline for these technologies being introduced could be only months, rather than years.
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help. World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a...
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help.
World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a luxury personal vehicle. As announced on October 10, the memorandum of understanding between Boeing and Porsche describes their plan to explore technologies for “premium personal urban air mobility vehicles.”
As part of the partnership, the companies will create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases. Boeing, Porsche, and Aurora Flight Sciences are also developing a concept for a fully electric VTOL aircraft. Engineers from both companies, as well as Porsche subsidiaries Porsche Engineering Services GmbH and Studio F.A. Porsche, will implement and test a prototype.
Since Boeing’s acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017, the two have been working together to develop and test various eVTOL prototypes, including the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV).
“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel,” stated Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche AG, in a press release. “We are combining the strengths of two leading global companies to address a potential key market segment of the future.”
According to Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s innovation division, Boeing NeXt, the collaboration with Porsche “builds on our efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem, and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand. Porsche and Boeing together bring precision engineering, style, and innovation to accelerate urban air mobility worldwide.”
Why it’s important: Much of the innovation and development in the aerial mobility industry has been geared toward commercial applications that will be leased or owned by operators. While the technology will ultimately grow fastest and see widespread use through commercialization, personal luxury vehicles have great potential to provide manufacturers with necessary revenue, through fewer high price tag sales, for expansion and further technological development. Aerial mobility may also benefit from a public acceptance standpoint if personal vehicles begin to enter the airspace prior to the high-volume operation of “airlines” such as Uber Air.
Source // Boeing
The CoMotion conference on future mobility, featuring 85 speakers and hundreds of participating industry experts, is coming to Los Angeles. CoMotion LA is an exciting yearly conference designed to bring together the most important stakeholders in urban mobility, including government representatives, transportation startups, key industry players, and more. Notable speakers include Joshua L. Schank, Metro’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Walder,...
The CoMotion conference on future mobility, featuring 85 speakers and hundreds of participating industry experts, is coming to Los Angeles.
CoMotion LA is an exciting yearly conference designed to bring together the most important stakeholders in urban mobility, including government representatives, transportation startups, key industry players, and more. Notable speakers include Joshua L. Schank, Metro’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Walder, CEO of Hyperloop, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti, and more.
This year, a key focus CoMotion will be discussing urban aerial mobility. TransportUP is partnering with CoMotion LA to help inform the public about the coming age of point to point and shared eVTOL services. This conversation is particularly relevant as Uber Elevate, Uber’s eVTOL division, has set a goal launching eVTOL services in Los Angeles by 2023, with demonstration flights beginning in 2020.
Aerial mobility participants in CoMotion LA include Travis Mason, Vice President of Urban Air Mobility at Airbus, and Bruce Holmes, CTO of hydrogen-powered eVTOL developer Alaka’i Technologies. Alaka’i Technologies announced its vision for hydrogen-powered passenger flight earlier this summer, while Airbus’s urban aerial mobility arm has been working on several potential designs for urban air transport systems.
On Thursday, November 14th, CoMotion LA will feature a keynote session on urban aerial mobility, considering issues like infrastructure, regulatory policy, external effects on the surrounding city, and the overall potential of eVTOL services in cities like Los Angeles. In addition, urban air mobility will be one the four categories in the L.A New Mobility Challenge, a startup competition which will award winners with financial resources and connections with top transportation policy makers and venture capitalists.
Attendees at CoMotion LA will get to partake in curated discussions, expert meetings, press conferences and private receptions, as well as have exclusive admission to the CoMotion LA Expo innovation showcases, exhibits, cutting edge mobility demonstrations and more.
Why it’s important: Los Angeles is currently one of the world’s centers for development in transportation, having recently invested billions in transportation infrastructure. Its ecosystem includes public transit, on demand ride-share, e-scooters and bicycles, and more. As one of the world’s cities most focused on innovative mobility, Los Angeles is primed for the coming aerial mobility market. CoMotion LA can help encourage and facilitate steps forward.
The company is in talks with investors for potentially their largest funding round to date The German startup is currently looking to bring up their financial position with a large jump. According to sources close to Lilium, the company has been talking with their investors to raise nearly half a billion dollars in their next round of funding; an investment...
The company is in talks with investors for potentially their largest funding round to date
The German startup is currently looking to bring up their financial position with a large jump. According to sources close to Lilium, the company has been talking with their investors to raise nearly half a billion dollars in their next round of funding; an investment which would be their largest to date. “It’s a very large round at a very large valuation,” said one venture capitalist to TechCrunch.
The specifics of this latest round are still unknown; Lilium has not divulged who will be participating in the funding round nor what the valuations might be. While the startup already has been backed by many large investors, such as WeChat owner and Chinese internet giant Tencent, Atomico, founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, Obvious Ventures, the early-stage VC fund co-founded by Twitter’s Ev Williams, LGT, the international private banking and asset management group, and Freigeist (formerly called e42), a fund led by Frank Thelen and backed in part by Christian Reber (co-founder of Wunderlist and now Pitch), this latest round of funding if successful would quintuple the current net worth of the company.
With plans to “transform transportation” by producing and maintaining a fleet of eVTOL aircraft, Lilium founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand looks to secure the proper funds to achieve such a large task. “It’s not only a benefit in terms of relieving society from transit traffic, but the much, much bigger benefit would be that everyone can use it and that people can get to their destination five times quicker, basically a five times increase of their daily radius of life,” said Wiegand, “This connectivity is going to be a huge benefit to society but also economic growth.”
Lilium’s most recent funding round raised $90 million, lead by investors Tencent, Atomico, and Obvious Ventures. A target valuation of nearly half a billion would suggest that these big names could pop up again.
Why it’s important: A successful funding round by Lilium would signify the largest funding round of any aerial mobility venture to date, and allow for Lilium to realize their goals of both mass-producing their aircraft and to provide and maintain a wide-reaching aerial mobility service; a huge step forward ahead of any other company in the aerial mobility sector.
Source // TechCrunch
UPS now operates the first official drone airline with a full Part-135 FAA certification. UPS, which operates 564 owned and leased traditional airplanes, has long been in the business of delivering parcels as well as heavy cargo, and now plans to use drone technologies to expand its scope. The company plans to announce strategic partnerships with drone makers, designers of...
UPS now operates the first official drone airline with a full Part-135 FAA certification.
UPS, which operates 564 owned and leased traditional airplanes, has long been in the business of delivering parcels as well as heavy cargo, and now plans to use drone technologies to expand its scope. The company plans to announce strategic partnerships with drone makers, designers of traffic-management systems, and customers such as retailers. As a certified airline operator, UPS prioritizes and specializes in logistics. Thus, it will continue to rely on the technologies of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to enable its vision, just as companies such as Boeing have supplied UPS with commercial jets for years.
Prior to this month’s Part-135 certification acquisition, UPS has been conducting drone deliveries at a large hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. The operations have been ongoing since March of this year, and are in collaboration with drone technology company Matternet. As explained in a recent press release, “the company will initially expand its drone delivery service further to support hospital campuses around the country, and to provide solutions for customers beyond those in the healthcare industry. UPS Flight Forward plans in the future to transport a variety of items for customers in many industries, and regularly fly drones beyond the operators’ visual line of sight (BVLOS).” In fact, the company has already completed its first flight BVLOS – immediately after acquiring the certification – by performing a revenue delivery at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, N.C.
UPS has beaten out competitors, such as Amazon’s Prime Air and Alphabet’s Wing, as the first to receive a full Part-135 certification. This will allow the operator to begin revenue flights of its commercial drone service throughout the entire United States. Wing recently received a similar certification, but with limited scope – the company is currently permitted to operate only in Christiansburg, VA, and with only one pilot, under a ‘Single pilot air carrier certificate’.
Why it’s important: As stated by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in an FAA release on Tuesday, “this is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in unmanned aviation.” The certification paves a way for future drone airlines to stand up commercial operations, without being restricted to line-of-sight or daytime flights.
Source // UPS Pressroom
Volocopter has announced plans to fly its first public showcase this month at Singapore’s Marina Bay. The company held a media event at the end of September and has reported the successful completion of numerous test flights in the hot and humid climate. Since arriving in Singapore, Volocopter has received support from the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority...
Volocopter has announced plans to fly its first public showcase this month at Singapore’s Marina Bay.
The company held a media event at the end of September and has reported the successful completion of numerous test flights in the hot and humid climate.
Since arriving in Singapore, Volocopter has received support from the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and the Economic Development Board.
According to Volocopter co-founder, Alexander Zosel, Singapore was chosen for the demonstration as it is a candidate for the company’s first point-to-point network deployment.
“In the end, we want to have Volocopter systems here in Singapore as a public transport system for business travelers or tourists. The plan is to open the first route in the next two to three years, but this will be defined with the authorities, and that could be a tourist case or a business case for example from the airport to the business district,” said Mr Zosel.
During this time Volocopter and Skyports will showcase the world’s first full-scale air taxi vertiport prototype: The VoloPort. This infrastructure is a collaboration between Volocopter and Skyports to design and build a full-size vertiport prototype of the type of infrastructure that urban air taxis and their passengers can expect to use in the future.
“It’s a process. It’s also about growing partnerships with the ecosystem in Singapore. Not only with the authorities, also players like 5G network providers are very important to operate this aircraft, so we want to create an ecosystem here with different players.”
The flight is expected to take place as part of the Intelligent Transport Systems Worldwide Congress which runs from October 21 to 25.
Why it matters: This demo will be the first opportunity for the public to witness the flight of Volocopter 2X model eVTOL aircraft. The company has been featured on TransportUP recently for its demonstration of a staged medical rescue operation. Further, the use of the VoloPort will provide a glimpse into the future of aerial mobility infrastructure.
Airbus and EASA will cooperate in developing the next generation of VTOL platforms European multinational aerospace company Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation intended to bring cooperation for a joint effort to develop the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) platforms and the associated regulatory structures. The agreement will focus...
Airbus and EASA will cooperate in developing the next generation of VTOL platforms
European multinational aerospace company Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation intended to bring cooperation for a joint effort to develop the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) platforms and the associated regulatory structures. The agreement will focus on vital areas of development, such as thermal/electric hybridization of propulsion systems, high-speed flight, certification of piloting assistance systems, and condition-based maintenance.
According to Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even: “Innovation that benefits customers is at the heart of Airbus Helicopters strategy and we are committed to working hand-in-hand with authorities around our innovation projects with the same professional approach, experience and spirit that have driven our legacy products.”
Both the EASA and Airbus are already currently working on several means to define and regulate the current developing aerial mobility sector. Notably, the EASA recently released a “Special Condition” pertaining to the certification of eVTOL aircraft in July 2019, and have looked into the certification for VTOL platforms as well. Airbus has been heavily invested in the aerial mobility industry, simultaneously working on several projects intended to explore the viability and commercial applications in the sector.
“Partnerships with industry are part of our strategy to ensure that innovation in the aviation market happens safely,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “The learnings we derive from cutting edge technologies play a significant role in helping us to prepare our certification methodologies for these new advancements. The cooperation on innovation with Airbus Helicopters represents an important contribution to this strategy.”
Why it’s important: Cooperation between one of the largest aerospace companies and the EASA could indicate that development and commercialization of the aerial mobility could progress at a faster pace. While commercialization of aerial mobility has already been projected to happen within the next decade, several companies still face regulatory issues in getting their vehicles certified and getting the right infrastructure in place. Airbus intends to take the lead by cooperating with the main authority that will oversee aerial mobility in Europe.
Source // Aerospace Technology
The X-57 Mod II, NASA’s first all-electric experimental aircraft, will soon undergo testing The aircraft was recently finished and delivered to NASA by their primary contractor, ESAero. With the delivery, NASA intends to start their engineers in testing the X-57 Mod II in ground tests. With success in testing, NASA looks to have the X-57 Mod II lead the discussion...
The X-57 Mod II, NASA’s first all-electric experimental aircraft, will soon undergo testing
The aircraft was recently finished and delivered to NASA by their primary contractor, ESAero. With the delivery, NASA intends to start their engineers in testing the X-57 Mod II in ground tests. With success in testing, NASA looks to have the X-57 Mod II lead the discussion in areas such as flight efficiency, zero carbon emissions and noise reduction.
The X-57 Mod II, a modified Tecnam P2006T, features an all electric propulsion system, powered by lithium-ion batteries. The aircraft has a maximum flight speed of 172 mph at an altitude of 8000 ft, and a total weight of about 3000 lb.
“The X-57 Mod II aircraft delivery to NASA is a significant event, marking the beginning of a new phase in this exciting electric X-plane project,” says X-57 Project Manager Tom Rigney in the press statement. “With the aircraft in our possession, the X-57 team will soon conduct extensive ground testing of the integrated electric propulsion system to ensure the aircraft is airworthy. We plan to rapidly share valuable lessons learned along the way as we progress toward flight testing, helping to inform the growing electric aircraft market.”
The X-57 is a design driver, intended to continue progress on the electric aircraft market, as well as explore the capabilities and restrictions of the aerial mobility market. NASA intends to use the X-57 to define certification standards for the electric aircraft market, in which many vehicles in the aerial mobility market are included.
Afterwards, there are plans to start on development for the Mod III, which will focus on energy efficiency, another vital factor in the electric aircraft market.
For more information about specifics of the electric aircraft market, read Matt Bohlsen’s Look at the Emerging Electric Aircraft Sector.
Why it’s important: Success in the aerial mobility sector will precede a huge expansion into a new market for transportation. With many companies already spending resources in getting their vehicles properly certified and exploring regulation standards, NASA intends to try and stay ahead of the curve by developing proper certification and regulatory standards for all electric aircraft to abide by, so that they are not taken off guard in the event that aerial mobility undergoes a massive expansion.
Source // Popular Mechanics
Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside eVTOL is designed to be fast, small, and exceedingly quiet. Based in Palo Alto, CA, aircraft manufacturer Kitty Hawk has added a third vehicle to its developmental fleet. Project Heaviside joins the Flyer, a recreational vertical takeoff and landing rotorcraft with a single-seat configuration, and the Cora, Kitty Hawk’s two-passenger autonomous aircraft designed to fit the requirements of...
Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside eVTOL is designed to be fast, small, and exceedingly quiet.
Based in Palo Alto, CA, aircraft manufacturer Kitty Hawk has added a third vehicle to its developmental fleet. Project Heaviside joins the Flyer, a recreational vertical takeoff and landing rotorcraft with a single-seat configuration, and the Cora, Kitty Hawk’s two-passenger autonomous aircraft designed to fit the requirements of aerial mobility applications. Cora holds an experimental airworthiness certificate and is currently being tested in New Zealand, with the backing of Boeing as a recent strategic partner for the project.
Heaviside, named after renowned physicist and electrical engineer Oliver Heaviside, is designed to quickly takeoff and land from nearly any location, but at a noise level acceptable for urban and densely-populated environments. According to Kitty Hawk, the electric aircraft is “roughly 100 times quieter than a regular helicopter.” This would make it almost completely indistinguishable from the background noise of a city or suburb.
Kitty Hawk has not only been working on optimizing the Heaviside vehicle’s noise efficiency, however; it is also designed for rapid, low power output flights. This would make it capable of a 15-minute flight that uses less than half the energy of a car. Damon Vander Lind, the physicist and electrical engineer who has been leading the project, put a strong emphasis on the “land anywhere” feature for vehicles designed with aerial mobility in mind. This would in fact eliminate the need for additional structure or dedicated helipads, and in return facilitate the implementation of these vehicles at a more attainable cost.
The team of engineers has conducted tests directly comparing the decibel level output of their Heaviside prototype, which was been in development for two years, and a typical helicopter. The results showed that, while the maximum decibel level of around 85 was similar for both, the Heaviside aircraft maintained that noise output for seconds compared to minutes during the helicopter’s takeoff. During hovering flight, their prototype was heard at an impressive 40 dB, even less than the typical air-conditioned office. These tests are currently being conducted autonomously, as Heaviside still has a long regulatory road ahead of it. Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun has recuruited the expertise of Mike Huerta, who served as FAA Administrator from 2013 to 2018, to help navigate this process.
Why it’s important: As one of the longstanding concerns in aerial mobility, noise has been placed at the forefront of Kitty Hawk’s focus for the Heaviside Project. With tangible comparisons to more noisy counterparts, the team’s prototype vehicle shows promising results and has potential to gain public acceptance for future implementation.
Sources // Kitty Hawk; TechCrunch
SkyDrive has received a $14M USD financing deal through share issuance and subsidiaries Leading flying car developer SkyDrive, established by the members of CARTIVATOR, a group of aircraft, drones, and automotive engineers, has secured 14 Million USD through Third-party share issuance funding and subsidies. A total of 18.5 Million USD has now been raised and manned test flights will begin...
SkyDrive has received a $14M USD financing deal through share issuance and subsidiaries
Leading flying car developer SkyDrive, established by the members of CARTIVATOR, a group of aircraft, drones, and automotive engineers, has secured 14 Million USD through Third-party share issuance funding and subsidies. A total of 18.5 Million USD has now been raised and manned test flights will begin this year.
Contributing venture capital partners of SkyDrive Inc. include Drone Fund, Z Corporation, STRIVE III Limited Liability Partnership, ITOCHU Technology Ventures, Inc. and Energy & Environment Investment, Inc. The president of STRIVE III Limited Liability Partnership, Tatsuo Tsutsumi, steps up as outside director of SkyDrive Inc.
We are delighted to be able to announce this financing breakthrough, which is testament to our hardworking team and speed of development. Securing the backing of these investors will be instrumental in getting our world-leading technology off the ground and into the skies.” –SkyDrive Chief Executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa
In additional to focusing on the landmark upcoming manned test flight, the company is working on product development and certification. The next phase in SkyDrive’s expansion plan is to recruit talented and passionate people to achieve the collective goal of bringing “Flight for All”.
Why it matters: SkyDrive is another quickly growing company in aerial mobility, again indicating global interest in eVTOL technologies. With $14M, SkyDrive will be able to more quickly launch its prototype and begin test flights.