Ehang Flies One and Two Passengers in Surprising Flight Demonstrations

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

An Executive Perk Unlike Any Other Chinese firm Ehang staged a demonstration of great confidence in its 184 (one passenger, eight motors/rotors, and four arms) autonomous flight vehicle.  The CEO and all executive members of the firm, and Guangzhou government officials got rides, with many giving thumbs-up signs during their trips. Hu Huazhi, Founder and CEO of Ehang, fills us in on numbers.  Over 150 technicians and engineers worked more than 1,000 days and ran over 1,000 test flights to bring the Ehang 184 to its current level of trustworthiness.  Flights held at the Ehang test flight site in Llanyungang City show the founder using stick and rudder to control the machine.  Xiong Yifang, cofounder and CMO for Ehang, flew …

Venture Capitalists Jump on JoeBen’s Bandwagon

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

People waste billions of hours sitting on roads worldwide each year. We envision a future where commuting by eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) is a safer, faster, and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation. We have spent the last ten years developing the technologies that have made our full-scale technical demonstrator possible and are now ready to build a commercial version of the aircraft. We’re excited to have attracted the backing of leaders in auto manufacturing, data intelligence, and transportation sectors. —Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt (Green Car Congress) A Knack for Making and Attracting Money That backing came February 1st in “funding from investors including Intel Capital, Toyota AI Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Capricorn Investment Group, a …

Vahana Flies!  Another Competitor in the Sky Taxi Airspace

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Zach Lovering, Project Executive for Airbus subsidiary A3 reports, “Today marks a historic day for Airbus, A³, and the Vahana team. We can now announce our successful first flight. At 8:52AM on January 31, 2018 in Pendleton, Oregon, our full-scale aircraft, dubbed Alpha One, reached a height of 5 meters (16 feet) before descending safely. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was fully self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day. In attendance was the full Vahana team, representatives from the FAA, and A³ leadership, all coming together to witness this historic accomplishment.” Hovering Autonomously With canards built in Portland, Oregon at Flighthouse Engineering LLC, the tandem-winged, eight-rotor, 745 kilogram (1,642 pound) machine has …

Heathrow London to Charing Cross in 12 Minutes

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Autonomous Flight designs and manufactures autonomous passenger drones (APD), and is based in both the United Kingdom and the United States.  Founded by Martin Warner, the company joins a growing number of entrepreneurial groups combining drone hardware and “software-based technologies” to provide rapid point-to-point transportation. Warner envisions a wide range of drone-based, battery-powered air vehicles for both commercial and private use, which he calls the “new gold rush in transportation and aviation”.  Autonomous Flight’s website promotes the familiar arguments for rising above gridlock.  The firm’s commercial notes the average American commuter spends 3.5 hours trapped in traffic every month.  The answer is the Y6S, a two-passenger drone that will whisk you from London-Heathrow to Charing Cross Station in only 12 …

AirSpaceX is NOT an Elon Musk Company

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Airspace Experience Technologies, LLC (AirSpaceX) is a subsidiary of Detroit Aircraft Corporation (DAC), and as far as this editor knows, not related to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  A little closer to earth, the planned low-altitude perambulations of its two creations reflect the growing interest in “sky taxis.” A Holding Company Brought Down by the Great Depression Jon Rimanelli, founder and CEO, sees Detroit Aircraft Corporation as an attempt to return the Motor City to its former glory days as a leader in aircraft development.  He notes that for a few brief years, DAC held controlling interests in the Ryan and Lockheed Aircraft companies, and created the only metal-clad airship in aeronautical history, The ZMC-2.  He explains, “Back in the ’20s, Detroit …

CES 2018 – Intel Inside and Then Some

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Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, took a ride in the Volocopter 2X, becoming the first human passenger on an autonomous flight of the vehicle.  The ride took place in a large enclosed space somewhere in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2017. An Historical Sidebar It looks a little like Hanna Reitsch’s helicopter flight under the roof of the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin in 1938, a feat she repeated daily during the three-week International Automobile Exhibition.  She later test flew an early V-1 “Buzz Bomb,” her small size adaptable to the craft.  Volocopter’s 2X requires far fewer flying skills, CEO Florian Reuter claiming a five-year-old can control the 2X. Not a Flying Car Sean O’Kane, enthusiastically reporting on the 2X for The Verge, …

Too Late for Boxing Day*, Ehang Delivers the Goods

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Broadcast live on December 24, this demonstration of the eHang 184 is, interestingly, an English-language presentation, with a lot of English names floating about. Someone named Mike shows off the Ehang 184 in this Christmas-related special.  His friend Miranda snugs herself into the compact passenger compartment, tries on the safety harnesses, and deplanes before committing aviation.  The video is a sales pitch for the drone manufacturer – actually more of a long wind-up before a pitch into the air.  Mike takes us through a tutorial on the craft, which seats one passenger and has eight propellers that are mounted on four arms (one-eight-four, or 184). The rather ungainly entrance and exit of the petite young woman suggests possible improvements eHang’s designers …

Hoversurf and OTSAW Patrol the Skies of Dubai

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Hoversurf’s recent announcement of its use by Dubai police to patrol the streets and skies of the capital city brings forth several questions.  With Dubai and other Emirates readily encouraging new modes of transport, including sky taxis and possibly Hyperloop trains, the country seems set to lead a transportation revolution in the 21st century. Already, style leaders and plutocrats crowd the streets with Lamborghinis and Bugattis: the police force fielding equally formidable patrol vehicles to control over-eager drivers.  Police inventories include a Brabus-tuned 690 horsepower Mercedes Geländewagen capable of off-road desert sorties, and at least one $1.6 million Bugatti Veyron for on-road speeders, along with a Porsche 918 and various Aston Martins.  Several other supercars ensure a fairly even pursuit …

Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

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Boeing made two announcements this week that show the maker of large aircraft willing to investigate niche markets at smaller scales and with more personal service for flyers.  Both involve electric power and the potential for automated flight. Zunum To Fly by 2020, In Service by 2022 Zunum Aero, the Boeing- and Jet Blue-backed regional airliner startup, will begin development of a 10-to-12 passenger airplane, hybrid powered with large electric ducted fans at the rear of the fuselage.  Having flown on earlier examples of 10-passenger “airliners,” your editor welcomes this smaller package.  Ford Trimotors and DeHavilland Dragons carried passengers in the 1930s, with simple accommodations and window seats for all.  The single-aisle made boarding and deplaning easy and quick, and …

David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

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David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …