To Rodin Lyasoff, the Chief Executive Officer of A┬│ ÔÇô AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ advanced projects outpost in┬áSilicon Valley, California, USA ÔÇô self-piloting air taxis will become a normal element of urban mobility in the coming years, marking ÔÇťanother golden age for aviation.ÔÇŁ
Speaking at TED, the bi-annual gathering on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, Lyasoff said AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ portfolio of ground-breaking projects is helping to make Urban Air Mobility a reality, spurred by advances in electric vehicles and autonomy.
A first tangible step is Vahana ÔÇô AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«ÔÇÖ self-piloted eVTOL (vertical take-off and landing) demonstrator that can travel approximately 20 miles in 15 minutes. ÔÇťOur cost estimate for a trip like this is around 40 dollars, which is something that you can really build a business around,ÔÇŁ Lyasoff said. ÔÇťWeÔÇÖve really focused on making it efficient, so the batteries are small, light, and they last longer. For reference, the Vahana battery is less than half the size of a Tesla Model S battery. It's about 40 kilowatt-hours, and you can hot-swap the batteries in just a few minutes.ÔÇŁ
I think the next decade is going to be another golden age for aviation. For one thing ÔÇô and this is where I get excited ÔÇô flight is about to get a lot more personal
- Rodin Lyasoff, the Chief Executive Officer of A┬│
Unlocking new possibilities with electric flight
Combining the ÔÇťunderutilised skiesÔÇŁ with electric propulsion opens up an entire new dimension for urban mobility and AGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗« is exploring multiple angles: CityAGŇŠ╚╦╝Ă╗«, an eVTOL vehicle for up to four passengers, in addition to┬áVahana, which┬áaims to create a similar mode of transport for individual travellers or cargo. In Singapore, the company is working with the countryÔÇÖs National University on the┬áSkyways┬áproject to test a parcel transportation system using autonomous electric drones.
ÔÇťElectric flight unlocks new possibilities for vehicle configurations that we just could not explore in the past,ÔÇŁ Lyasoff explained. ÔÇťIf you use electric motors, you can have many of them around the aircraft, and it doesn't add a lot of extra weight. And that gives you redundancy and safety. They also are cleaner, cheaper, and quieter than internal combustion engines.ÔÇŁ
Lyasoff told the TED audience that while in college during the late 1990s, he often was told that his desire to pursue aerospace studies would lead to a ÔÇťboringÔÇŁ career. ÔÇťWell, they were a little bit off the mark,ÔÇŁ he added. ÔÇťAnd in fact, I think the next decade is going to be another golden age for aviation. For one thing ÔÇô and this is where I get excited ÔÇô flight is about to get a lot more personal.ÔÇŁ