If you find yourself still unimpressed with technological leaps that have given the world self-driving, semi-autonomous, road-going vehicles, then you must look for inspiration up in the sky. Voila! A new, four-seat, fully autonomous, and fully electric flying taxi is certain to take your breath away.
Developed by California-based Wisk Aero, this helicopter-like machine is as stunning as they come in form; and with the company promising guaranteed compliance with the most rigorous commercial safety standards, the function certainly appears to be as appealing.
The science and other stuff to know
The machine is Wisk’s 6th generation air taxi the company classifies as an electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. Additionally, Wisk claims the tech upgrades and conformity to safety regulations make it the “first-ever” candidate for type certification by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that could classify it as an autonomous eVTOL.
The air taxi could reach a maximum attainable speed of 61.7 m/s (120 knots) and a 144.8-km (90-mile) range with a proprietary 12-propeller design and boom configuration that has an improved propulsion system.
Worried about your safety? Don’t be! A press release by Wisk claimed that the 6th generation air taxi had fewer moving parts and “no single point of failure” that made it far ahead of today’s safety regulations while giving it a “one-in-a-billion chance” of an accident.
Wisk has incorporated technology utilized in automated pilot functions in commercial airliners and improved it with superior detect and avoid capabilities and sensors, and nothing has been left to chance.
The “logic-driven, procedural-based, decision-making software which provides reliable, deterministic outcomes” will be paired with human supervisors that could initiate real-time interventions when needed.
Once inside, the passengers would have space for themselves, their baggage, and creature comforts like Wi-Fi and charging.
If approved by the FAA for commercial use, Wisk’s air taxi could be a giant leap forward for air travel. For starters, Wisk is targeting a price of $3 per passenger for every mile traveled. If that is attained, a 16-km (10-mile) journey for four could only cost $120. Although it may seem on the higher side at first, increasing traffic in most modern cities around the world and the ensuing slow pace of even the shortest commutes do make the case of air taxis a strong one. The time you could save for a few extra dollars is invaluable to many.
Secondly, we must appreciate how innovations like these will prove friendly to the environment. They could greatly help reduce the demand for fossil fuels as well as the carbon footprint their widespread consumption creates.
While the autonomous operation of the flying taxi is subject to relevant approvals, it certainly is an idea worth rooting for. The reduced impact on the environment alone should be enough of a cause to hope to see the flying taxi in service soon.
In the meantime, let’s sit out hours of traffic jams and save money to pay for peak-hour fare adjustments.