One Step Closer to Transporting Passengers
In the race to create a commercially viable air taxi service, and let me be clear it is a race, Boeing-backed startup Wisk Aero has unveiled its latest eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-off or Landing) aircraft. This offering from Wisk is an all-electric four-seater, which happens to be their sixth generation. Even more surprising, it doesn’t require a human pilot.
Wisk is not the only company working on developing an air taxi service. Several other startups, including Uber and Lilium, are also vying for a piece of the market. However, Wisk may have an advantage over its competitor's thanks to its partnership with Boeing. The aerospace giant has extensive experience in designing and manufacturing large commercial aircraft.
How the Aircraft Works The aircraft is powered by electric motors and batteries, which allow it to take off and land vertically (eVTOL). The proprietary five-blade/12 propeller system improves aircraft control and performance by reducing the amount of noise and ensuring efficient energy management.
The front propellers easily convert from lift position to cruise position in a quick fashion (see below)
The aircraft has a range of 90 miles with some left in reserves and can reach cruising speeds of up to 138 mph (120knots). The recharge time is only 15 minutes and could easily be performed during preflight preparations. The company says that the aircraft is significantly quieter than traditional helicopters, making it more suitable for urban environments. Expect a cruising altitude between 2500 and 4000 feet.
It is important to note that safety is the primary concern with this electric means of transportation. Wisk has performed more than 1600 test flights throughout six generations of aircraft. Each flight provided valuable data vital in propelling the technology forward to the current offering. With this data, they have built into the aircraft several redundancies. Wisk states they have the slimmest possibility of having an issue during a flight.
What is Self-Flying?
At Wisk, we’re committed to a self-flying first approach. By leveraging existing, proven technology, our proprietary autonomous software, and human oversight, we’re able to make autonomous flight a reality.
Simply put, they are building the self-flying, piloting aspect using all of the current innovations in commercial air travel (Auto Pilot) and turbo-charging it with their software enhancements. These software enhancements include obstacle detecting and avoiding capabilities. Not to be forgotten is the human factor in the form of Multi-vehicle Supervisors. These supervisors would be responsible for anything out of the ordinary and could step in to make the necessary adjustments.
Wisk’s current fleet of aircraft is being tested in New Zealand, Florida, and California. Their goal is to make this means of travel accessible to the largest possible demographic while keeping the cost of flight affordable. The company plans to begin passenger service in 2023 in one or more U.S. cities.
With the unveiling of its latest passenger-ready aircraft, Wisk Aero has taken a big step towards becoming the first company to offer commercial air taxi services.