Rolls-Royce Unveils Hybrid Flying Taxi in Collaboration with Aston Martin, Joins Uber, Google
Rolls-Royce said it hoped to manufacture a prototype version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle within the next 18 months.
Rolls-Royce Flying Car. (Image: Aston Martin)
British engine maker Rolls-Royce revealed plans this week to develop a hybrid electric vehicle, dubbed the "flying taxi", which takes off and lands vertically and could be airborne within five years. The London-listed aerospace giant, which is based in Derby in central England, showed off the plans at the Farnborough Airshow for the first time, as other players also rush into the market segment.
Rolls said it hoped to manufacture a prototype version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle within the next 18 months, and could potentially take to the skies in the early 2020s. The Rolls-Royce EVTOL plane will seat four or five people, with a flying range of 500 miles (805 kilometres) and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.
"In this market, you will see something like this flying within three to five years, and we will demonstrate the system in two years," said Rob Watson, head of Rolls-Royce's electrical team. "At the end of next year we will be flight ready," he told AFP at the group's Farnborough chalet.
The hybrid vehicle, which has so far cost single-digit millions of pounds to develop, will use a traditional gas turbine engine with an electrical system wrapped around it. Rolls-Royce is also researching an all-electric product but that is not as advanced as the EVTOL offering.
Rolls is not alone in the hybrid "flying taxi" marketplace. Other companies researching the sector include US taxi-hailing company Uber, the Google-backed Kitty Hawk project, Lilium Aviation in Germany, Safran in France, and Honeywell in the United States.
The aerospace sector's push into electric propulsion has drawn comparisons with the automotive industry, where electric cars are gaining ground in terms of popularity and performance. The real market opportunity will likely be a scaled up version of 10-15 seats that can serve a wider variety of applications, according to Stewart.
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