The “flying taxi” is on the way: the British Rolls-Royce group has unveiled the plan to build a vertical take off hybrid electric vehicle, likely to be in the sky in five years. The group, based in Derby, central England, presented the design for the first time in the Farnborough living room while other industries are active in the sector.
The aerospace giant hopes to have built a prototype of its “flying taxi” over the next eighteen months: theoretically, it could be launched in the early 20’s. The electric plane will be able to carry four to five passengers at a maximum speed of 322 km / h and cover a distance of 805 km.
“We will see a similar product fly in three or five years, and we will make a demonstration of this system in two years,” said Rob Watson, head of the program. The hybrid vehicle, the development of which has already cost several million pounds, will use a traditional gas engine and will have a supplementary electric system.
Rolls-Royce is also studying the development of an entirely electric vehicle, which is not at an advanced stage of development as the hybrid taxi.
“There is an emerging market for entirely electric aircraft, but for us, such a system can not really meet today the level of our demands,” explained Rob Watson.
The entirely electric vehicle is a means for the city, but to go from London to Paris, it will need a motor that will allow this journey. And it will be the hybrid systems that will understand this market, “he added. Rolls-Royce is not the only one in the ‘flying taxis’ market. And other groups such as Uber, Google-supported Kitty Hawk, German Lilium, French Safran, and American Honeywell are conducting similar surveys.
Turning the aerospace sector into electric propulsion reminds the electric drive in the car: fully electric cars are gaining ground in popularity and performance.
“Look at the car industry. Historically, the whole world had an internal combustion engine. Over time, more and more electric power was added until we saw electric cars appear, “according to Rob Watson. In the same way, we are introducing a hybrid drive system in this market because it’s delivering on its scope and performance.”
David Stuart, an aviation expert at Strategic Adviser Oliver Wyman, reveals that the aerospace sector is under pressure to become more environmentally friendly.
“Electricity can cause problems in the way these machines are fed. Electricity can not at this time replace kerosene, but we should never say it. ”
In his opinion, Rolls-Royce’s Rolls-Royce’s plan is, in fact, a test platform for new technology. According to Stewart, the product to be commercially marketed is likely to be an improved version of the ‘taxi’ taxi, which will include 10 to 15 seats and greater chances of use.
“Over time, we have more electric power for ever larger planes and we are focusing on it today. We are in a process of learning technology that we will need tomorrow, “says Rob Watson.