The future of transport

Harpo

Getting away with it
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The edge of the world. Yes, really.

 
If the Panama Canal has to close due to water shortages, the proposed Mexico rail route might replace it.

 
Japan is marketing a sky car, it is short hop 3 seater taxi drone vehicle with a pilot which looks practical to build unlike the long line of car bodies with wings or rotors that are brought out every year and then disappear. It is advertised as an autonomous flying car that will pick you up and fly you straight to your destination in comfort as you enjoy the ride.

It is an eVTOL, an electric vertical takeoff and landing air taxi using 2 dozen motors. The picture shows 12 rotors, 6 on each side. Because it is lightweight, 1.4 tons, the company claims it can land directly on appropriate rooftops.

Skydrive has partnered with Suzuki who is building the air car. Thales is supplying the control mechanisms. It isn't cheap, $100,000. With current batteries it has a range of 9 miles. The Suzuki manufacturing plant in Japan is expected to build 100 air cars a year starting in 2025. Skydrive expects to get the air car an airworthiness certification from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau in 2025.

Skydrive "plans to develop an advanced air mobility ecosystem in South Carolina while focusing on building a variety of practical use cases originating from two of its key airports in cooperation with local and state government agencies."

Apparently Skydrive has some kind agreement with Charleston, South Carolina to provide some kind of local taxi service, probably between two fixed points, using 5 SD-05s. It also has an agreement with the Bravo Air charter service operating out of Augusta, Georgia airport. SkyDrive signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Augusta, Georgia Regional Airport based private charter operator Bravo Air for a preorder of up to five Skydrive SD-05 models.

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Why would an urban train run on anything but city electricity?
 
I think that with avoidance of conflict the world will focus more on rail transport of essential goods if possible, and for mass transit in high-density areas, and then still use fossil fuels for cargo trucks and ships.
 
While the advertising blurb says it's autonomous, it comes with a pilot who isn't optional and who probably uses the computer to show them where to fly to. 16 percent of The Bravo Air Charter service is air taxi service. It shows the Skydrive range as 9 miles but doesn't say if that is a round trip. The date for true autonomous travel is 2031, far enough away so it doesn't mean it will happen, nor is it needed for operation. Having a pilot operating the vehicle will insure that it gets into flight use immediately versus waiting for a true autonomous design to be successful.

Skydrive is a taxi service that bypasses traffic to get you from the train station or airport to your destination. It obviously isn't for everyone as it doesn't come cheap. Taxis are not replacements for cars though uber and Lfyt would like to think they are. It's basically a helicopter with no long distance range, typical of current electric passenger air vehicles. The Augusta Regional airport sees a fair amount of service but it maxes out for the Augusta Golf Tournament, which will supply plenty of customers willing to shell out the extra bucks for the flying electric taxi ride.

Shipping large amounts of freight on a single transport service to a distribution center is still more efficient with fossil fuel. But once the freight arrives in bulk and has to be distributed to a variety of local locations, electric power is going to prove to be more economical than fossil fuel vehicles. The electric delivery vehicles are simply built cheaper. This particular vehicle is patterned after a typical drone design and there are already drones this size in operation, so it would seem it will be built, unlike the car bodies with traditional airplane wings or mini 1 seater vehicles where the passenger is the pilot.
 
The problem with these helicopters (and cars) whether autonomous or otherwise, is that they are generally just for personal transport, and yet they take up so much space. That space may be while they are parked (airports, residential roads and car parks/lots) or stuck in traffic on roads and highways. Public transport makes much better use of that urban space (and is cheaper, more fuel economy i.e. greener) but people would much rather travel alone (and they get door to door delivery, protection from the weather, don't have to talk or interact with strangers.) So, unless we want the skies to become traffic jams like our roads, I can't see this happening, but then I don't know what we will see instead. Matter transportation/transport booths is just a fantasy. Most journeys taken are actually walking distances, yet people still drive cars to complete them (and would presumably take one of those helicopters.) There has always been a lack of a "good" personal carrier vehicle for distances between short walks and a car/horse/bus ride. The bicycle fills that gap, as the Sinclair C5 was meant to also (but that never caught on.) Electric bicycles and scooters are trying to fill it now, but if I knew a better answer then I'd become a millionaire.
 
The size of the air car is pretty big, 37 feet by 37 feet by 10 feet tall. Its not something you can store in a typical garage for a car. Its a little bigger than a 3 seater light weight experimental 200 HP helicopter that cost 200,000.
 
The size of the air car is pretty big, 37 feet by 37 feet by 10 feet tall. Its not something you can store in a typical garage for a car. Its a little bigger than a 3 seater light weight experimental 200 HP helicopter that cost 200,000.
Why store it at your house if it flies itself?

And it should be easy to fold up.
 
I think they are meant to fold up. One of the selling points seems to be that you can have one on the back of your yacht, without looking like you are so rich that you can afford a helicopter on your yacht. (I see a small problem with that idea though :unsure: .)

In Science Fiction of the past, didn't they imagine everyone having an airport on the roof of their houses?

Also, self-driving cars will drop you off and go off to find their own parking spaces.
 
I'll have to ask the maker, it doesn't say that it folds up. Just says dimensions including rotors. A fixed carbon fiber body might be lighter weight than one that folds up.
 
Even though the typical car is a complex machine, it can be easily operated by most people. Cars also have quite a few safety features which adds to their weight and size.

The jetpacks and flying platforms end up being impractical because they are completely dependent on the skill of the human operator.

The speeds are now up to 75 mph and the flight time is well over an hour which gives them a decent range. But its an open cab flying high enough above the ground so any unplanned interaction with the ground or obstacles in flight most likely would not have a good outcome. There aren't any capabilities of carrying extra luggage. The combustion engines carry their own liabilities for such a small package. One of the designs had kevlar wrapped around the engine it case it came apart in flight because the pilot is basically carrying or standing on the engine.

Protective cabs don't show up until you get to the mini planes and mini helicopters. That might be because when the pilot is sitting on the engine they need all the visibility they can get. The pilot has to split their time between watching where they are going and operating the controls. The single person mini flight vehicles all have the same disadvantage, they all require a very competent pilot to fly them. I think putting a protective cab around the pilot or passengers reduces the amount of work the pilot needs to safely fly the vehicle.

Motorcycles have been compared to open cab mini flying vehicles but the motorcycle is traveling on the ground which automatically includes a certain level of stability that flying through the air does not include.
 
Even though the typical car is a complex machine, it can be easily operated by most people. Cars also have quite a few safety features which adds to their weight and size.

The jetpacks and flying platforms end up being impractical because they are completely dependent on the skill of the human operator.

The speeds are now up to 75 mph and the flight time is well over an hour which gives them a decent range. But its an open cab flying high enough above the ground so any unplanned interaction with the ground or obstacles in flight most likely would not have a good outcome. There aren't any capabilities of carrying extra luggage. The combustion engines carry their own liabilities for such a small package. One of the designs had kevlar wrapped around the engine it case it came apart in flight because the pilot is basically carrying or standing on the engine.

Protective cabs don't show up until you get to the mini planes and mini helicopters. That might be because when the pilot is sitting on the engine they need all the visibility they can get. The pilot has to split their time between watching where they are going and operating the controls. The single person mini flight vehicles all have the same disadvantage, they all require a very competent pilot to fly them. I think putting a protective cab around the pilot or passengers reduces the amount of work the pilot needs to safely fly the vehicle.

Motorcycles have been compared to open cab mini flying vehicles but the motorcycle is traveling on the ground which automatically includes a certain level of stability that flying through the air does not include.
None of which applies when you automate the flight controls.
 
Automatic vehicle control is not going to happen for awhile. In the meantime, the SkyDrive will be certified with a human at the controls as any flying vehicle would be, and it will go into service long before any air vehicles that fully depend on automatic flight controls.
 
"The potential of the urban air mobility market is about two billion passengers per year, to be reached in the period between 2030 and 2035, the executive said." These are people using the electric vertical take off vehicles as a taxi service, paying $50 to 100 or more per ride, that goes up to 60 miles. The ride would be shared by the passengers.

Seems like its the same kind of contest being observed with the space vehicles.

When you look at airports where these would be used as taxis, some of the airports are at the center of mazes which can include water and can take 35 minutes to get to a main road if you are not using your own car.

There are at least 2 companies signing agreements in countries outside of Japan to fly them as air taxi's.

The two air cars have electric motors but the larger one claims to travel up to 60 miles and is built like a plane with wings and apparently costs $2.8 million. The smaller one, built like a helicopter and goes 9 miles, cost $100,000. Both companies are building plants and both companies air cars have not been certified yet. I can't find any evidence that the bigger EVE Etvol prototype has been built yet. In 2024 the prototype was under construction while the factory in Brazil was in production of the craft. The smaller helicopter one, the SkyDrive company is building prototypes now (March 2024) but not disclosing initial production rates or the number of prototypes it aims to manufacture before certification.

Supposedly the helicopter version will be flying limited air taxi service in 2025 at World Expo 2025 in Japan while a prototype of the longer range model built like a plane should be built by the end of 2024 and in service by 2026.

The long range plane model is listed as 28.3 ft wide, 20.2 ft long, and 8 ft 3 in high, with a wingspan of 50 ft. How can it be 28 feet wide with a wing span of 50 feet? Estimated Weight around a 4500 pounds.
The short range helicopter model is 37 feet by 37 feet by 10 feet tall. Estimated Weight around 2500 pounds.
When it first started out, the SkyDrive had a range: 5-10 km (3-6 miles) with a flight time of 5-10 minutes, now the range is up to 9 miles. The first designs made 6 years ago were supposed to be for an air car that flew in the sky and drove on the road. That design was replaced by the current vertical takeoff flying only model.

Does this mean that the batteries for the EVE plane (range 60 miles) model are 7 times the weight of the battery pack for the Sky Drive helicopter (range 9 miles)?
 

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