Tecnalia, a Spanish technology and engineering firm, presented its Aerotaxi at the Paris Air Show this year. The company demonstrates a way to make automated flight a little less perturbing to the anxious public, keeping the platform on the straight and level during all phases of flight. It does this with four gimbaled sets of four propellers, which do all the pivoting and changes of angle while leaving the passenger compartment in a constant plane. This should do a great deal to calm the reluctant flyer.
Tecnalia adds, “Joseba Lasa, one of the people responsible for the development, explained that “the main novelty of Tecnalia’s aircraft lies in the fact that the architecture allows the cabin to maintain its orientation regardless of speed, a clear advantage over conventional drones and current ‘air taxi’ applications. This feature enhances the flying experience, providing a sensation similar to that of travelling by car or bus from a dynamic point of view.”
Aerotaxi has been developed by Tecnalia, “To travel in cities autonomously for the transfer of a person and cover urban distances of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).” These may sound like small goals, but they allow for smaller aircraft, lower weights, and smaller battery packs – a kind of virtuous cycle. Tecnalia explains this downsizing by noting that 15 kilometers will cover the transportation needs of 85-percent of all cities in the world.
Tecnalia reports, “Agustín J. Sáenz, the Deputy Director or Tecnalia’s Market division says, ‘it is a milestone in the Urban Air Mobility field, which positions us as pioneers in Europe together with Germany and has turned us into a world leader…. This is a new aircraft concept that could be scaled from one to four passengers depending on the integration demanded in each city and for each service.’”
Aerotaxi was not the only presentation by Tecnalia at Le Bourget. Besides their aerial taxi, they showed, “New architectures with more distributed electric propulsion; new additive manufacturing processes using WAAM or Binder Jetting technology; automation in the manufacture of complex composite parts and 4.0 solutions for the digitization of the aeronautical value chain.”
As Urban Mobility becomes a more prominent part of modern transportation, we will see expanded interest from major players. Tecnalia seems to have the resources to make major contributions.