Dubai’s proposed fleet of flying taxis could be joined in the skies over the city by larger and more powerful passenger carrying drones, if plans by aviation startup Vimana take off.
Vimana is developing an electric-powered, Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and a blockchain-based control system, which would make fast and reliable city-wide aerial taxis a reality.
Speaking at the Arab Future Cities Summit in Dubai, Vimana CEO and founder Evgeni Borisov, said that the company is proposing a complete ‘Urban Air Mobility’ system (UAM), which would be a turnkey solution to enable cities to launch safe and practical aerial transport.
The multi-component system includes the aerial vehicle, control systems, setup and support, which will operate as an open architecture ecosystem.
The Vimana AAV, which is due for its first test flights in Moscow later this month, is a tilt-wing eVTOL, which has electric motors powered by electric hybrid power source.
The craft will have a 10m wingspan, and will be able to carry a 400kg payload of up to 4 passengers, with a range of 900km and a top speed in sustained flight of up to 150mph (240kph).
Borisov said the initial prototype was developed for a project for surveying for the mining sector in the far east of Russia, so it was built for range, resilience and long flight times. While the mining project did not go ahead, the tilt wing design concept proved to be so successful, in terms of an efficient switch from horizontal to vertical flight, and the ability for the drone to glide that the idea has been amended into a city transport solution.
“The concept was way more than the initial task, it actually found the Holy Grail of VTOL industry, in terms of the fully, 100% safe transition mode from vertical to horizontal flight,” he said.
The design is now in its second prototype version, and is due to undergo test flights in a 50% scale version this month, and Vimana says it is also in discussion with authorities in Dubai, along with Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto and Dallas about further testing and possible future deployments.
The company has also developed a smaller cargo version of the drone, which could carry a 150kg payload up to 1,200km. In a city environment, the AAV would likely be converted to electrical power only, he added, which would reduce the range, but would aim to keep the same speed capabilities.
The project has aimed to be compliant with the parameters laid out in Uber’s ‘Elevate’ concept, which aims to have aerial passenger transport flying by 2020. More info
By M. Sutton arabianbusiness.com