For $2000, anyone can rent a Ferrari for a day, provided you’re comfortable paying double that amount as a security deposit, raising your insurance liability, and limiting the fun to 100 miles. But what if you could drive a Porsche at that price for an entire month, for unlimited miles and with no extra hassle? That’s the new reality—at least in Atlanta.Porsche’s new subscription service, called Passport, operates like Cadillac’s Book program in New York City. It’s a no-contract app-based service that lets you drive multiple Porsche models every month without any commitment, with all fees, taxes, and insurance baked into the price
Expect to see more flying taxis and services within the next few years as the technology is further developed and tested. German startup E-volo, for example, also has plans to launch a taxi service next year, while Uber has promised to introduce their own flying taxis by 2020. Dubai recently had a successful test of its autonomous Volocopter, which is also meant to be used in urban areas — albeit for shorter, 30-minute trips. Lastly, there’s the German company Lilium, which just received an additional $90 million to develop their all-electric flying taxi, with the intent to have a series of commercialized aircraft by 2025.
Dubai is moving full steam ahead toward a futuristic skyline dotted with modern skyscrapers and flying taxis by kicking off trials of the Volocopter two-seater aircraft. The all-electric 18-rotor vehicle took to the skies for the first time over the city on Monday as the city looks to establish what would be world’s first self-flying taxi service.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The Volocopter first emerged in 2013 as an audacious electric aircraft, and has gathered quite a bit of momentum in the subsequent years through a series of successful test flights and, more recently, a US$29 million investment from Daimler. Designed to autonomously carry two passengers from point A to point B without a pilot, the Volocopter in its current form can fly for 30 minutes at a time with a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).Dubai announced its plans to trial the Volocopter back in June, and has rebranded it as the Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) for its purposes. It is hoped the aircraft will play a role in having autonomous vehicles handle a quarter of all passenger journeys in the city by 2030.
First Transit will join GoMentum Station and use the facility as a test site for innovative transit applications, including a pilot project with EasyMile and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to deploy the first SAV shuttle on public roads in the U.S. The pilot project, which began in late 2016, recently launched the second phase of testing at Bishop Ranch, an office park in San Ramon, Calif.
SpaceX just conducted its first test of the Falcon Heavy’s main core.Elon Musk says his team will conduct a test launch of the Falcon Heavy in late summer as they prepare to orbit the Moon in 2018 with two passengers in the first commercial spaceflight.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also expressed interest in commercial space travel. The company has developed the Dragon V2 spacecraft, capable of carrying seven people into space. Even more, they are looking to take their travel plans significantly further by promising a trip to the moon in 2018.
E-volo isn’t the only company working on flying cars, VTOLs, or a flying taxi service. Popular ridesharing company Uber has been working on one, too. Big companies and startups alike have been testing their own flying vehicles: there’s industry veteran Airbus, Larry Page’s Zee.Aero, and a Chinese startup called Ehang. More options should make the tech increasingly more affordable.
Manned multicopters for personal flight are definitely going to be a thing in the near future. On the industrial-grade side of things, you can look at eHang out of China, and their (dubious, in my opinion) plans to roll out VTOL air taxis in Dubai this year. Or Jetpack Aviation’s upcoming prototypes, or eVolo’s Volocopter.If you want to know how these things are most likely to impact your life in the medium term, you should check out Uber’s excellent Elevate whitepaper, which details how cruise-capable electric VTOL vehicles could make business sense in the coming decades, and does a great job outlining the technological, regulatory, infrastructure and capital issues that’ll need to be addressed before they start operating in commercial quantities.But multicopters are easy to build – heck, the entire drone industry was built on do-it-yourself hobby kits as recently five or six years ago. And we now live in a world where it’s easy and cheap to buy things like inertial measurement units, GPS units, electric motors and props. Flight controller chips from HobbyKing, Naze32, OpenPilot, DJI and a rash of others are cheap, reliable, reasonably bulletproof and come with easy-to-program software. Even the price of a decent sized lightweight lithium battery pack is coming down.So it’s natural enough that people are starting to build multicopters in their back yards that are big enough to carry humans around. The technology is easily available – just add cojones and stir.
We live in a time where Level 5 autonomous cars are close to becoming a reality, and more than one company is working towards bringing humans to Mars. Consider all this, it’s almost surprising that flying cars haven’t taken to the skies yet. But it turns out we may not have to wait too long: Airbus is planning to test a prototype, not only for a flying car but an autonomous flying car.
Uber already has self-driving cars, and now it’s on to the next frontier: Flying cars. The ride-hailing company on Thursday posted a white paper outlining its plan for “on-demand aviation,” aka flying Ubers. “On-demand aviation, has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes,” Uber wrote in its white paper. Along with a lengthy analysis of the economics and mechanics of flying cars, Uber published a bunch of illustrations of next-generation airborne transportation.
An Anheuser-Busch autonomous tractor-trailer drove more than 51,000 cans of beer across Colorado this week, marking what it says is the “world’s first” self-driving truck delivery.The journey was made possible by Otto, a San Francisco-based startup recently acquired by Uber. Its truck hauled 2,000 crates of Budweiser from Fort Collins, through Denver, to Colorado Springs.
Toyota will start selling its clean air hydrogen bus, the Toyota Murai, starting in 2017.Fuel cell engines create clean water and don’t emit greenhouse gases — but synthesising hydrogen for the engine does.Toyota’s new Murai hydrogen-powered buses will take to the streets of Toyko starting in 2017, the company has announced. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has already purchased two buses, but the automotive manufacturer plans to sell 100 before the 2020 Olympic games hosted in Japan’s capital.
Test pilots for Sikorsky recently used tablets to fly one of the firm’s S-76 commercial helicopters, part of a Pentagon look at installing autonomous, or self-piloting, systems into existing helicopter models.The chopper flew from the company’s Stratford, Conn., facility to Robertson Airport in Plainville, Conn. — a distance of about 30 miles — in January, a press release from the firm said. Pilots used a tablet to load the flight plan and initiate take-off, leaving system software to handle the flight controls and make adjustments.The test completes the $8 million first phase of an autonomous cockpit program run by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Dubbed the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit System, or ALIAS, program, it aims to fit autonomous systems into existing helicopter models such as the company’s UH-60 Black Hawk. Pilots and trainers would have the option of using the system instead of flying the aircraft manually.