Pulse eVTOL concept drops its cabin onto an autonomous car chassis
Here's one we missed from several months ago: Brazilian eVTOL innovator EmbraerX put forth a fun video showing how a multi-mode 3D transport system might work, with an eVTOL air taxi carrying a detachable glassed-over cabin that it delivers straight onto a self-driving car chassis.
The coming new breed of eVTOL air taxis are nearly all, at this stage, designed to work as part of a multi-mode transport scheme. The flying taxis themselves will travel from skyport to skyport, meaning you'll need other means to get yourself to the takeoff point and something else again at the other end for the last mile. It's simply not practical to expect eVTOLs to drop you off right at your destination.
Companies like Uber are salivating at the thought of being able to offer the whole service as a single sale, co-ordinating a car at each end to minimize travel time, but that starts looking like a bit of an annoyance when you consider the hope is that people will use these things for the daily commute. Four taxis and two eVTOLs every day is a pain.
And so we get this concept from Embraer's flying taxi division EmbraerX. The Pulse system has a single, shared, glassed-over luxury cabin that can click into an eVTOL airframe or clip onto a skateboard electric car chassis, something like what REE makes.
Everything is autopiloted; passengers selects a destination, and a self-driving car comes to pick them up. The car drives to a skyport, disgorges the cabin into the airframe, it flies off and is met by another car chassis as it touches down at the next skyport. The cabin clips to the chassis, which has its own power source and locomotion capabilities, and the cabin is then autonomously driven to the final street destination without the passengers having to get in and out and mess about.
This is, of course, blue-sky thinking. Many problems need to be solved before it becomes anything close to reality. For starters, there's not a single eVTOL air taxi service in operation as yet, although things are certainly heating up in that space. This concept needs those up and running with autonomous piloting abilities, as well as a functional self-driving car network on the ground.
That's without thinking about the enormous additional challenges of super-precision positioning for the handoffs, as well as the engineering challenges and added weight of a detachable cabin, and the logistical questions around how exactly EmbraerX thinks it might be able to put enough of these cabins in the right place when everyone's traveling toward the city in the morning and away at night. There could be a lot of empty cabin trips involved.
At this stage, it's just a fun CAD render video with a bit of cheesy acting thrown in for laughs. And EmbraerX has other plans that might actually see it participate in the embryonic stages of the eVTOL market.
Don't expect this one to happen – not soon, and not ever looking like this. But it's a valid contribution to the discussion about where things might get to as autopilot eVTOL, autonomous car and skateboard chassis technologies begin to merge, decades in the future. Enjoy the video below.