Jetson One personal eVTOL looks like a ton of fun to fly
If anyone can think of a more perfect name for a personal eVTOL, we're listening! Sweden's Jetson Aero has already sold out the 2022 production run of this cute little single-seat kit build, which is capable of zooming along at 63 mph (102 km/h).
The Jetson One is a simple design purely dedicated to muckin' about and having fun. Its single seat is suspended in an aluminum/carbon fiber spaceframe. It's a straight-up drone-style multicopter, with eight props mounted coaxially on four arms, putting out a total peak of 88 kW (118 horsepower). Jetson says it'll fly safely if one motor dies, but frankly I'd be more interested in landing safely at that point.
The pilot flies it with a throttle lever on the left, a joystick on the right, and a pair of pedals, presumably controlling yaw. There's some very basic system information displayed on a little dash that frankly looks like a smartphone in a cradle.
The triple-redundant flight computers will simply hover in place or perform an emergency landing if you let go of the sticks, and the system endeavors to keep pilots out of trouble using LiDAR-enabled terrain tracking and obstacle avoidance. The last line of defense is a rapidly deployable ballistic parachute, but boy oh boy, we wouldn't want to find ourselves needing that.
It's reasonably compact at 2845 mm x 2400 mm x 1030 mm (112 x 95 x 41 inches), and the prop arms are designed to fold in as well, leaving it not much bigger than a touring motorcycle in your garage. It's lightweight for its size, but at 90 kg (198 lb) it's the sort of thing you'll probably need help moving around.
Jetson is selling these things as home-built kits, 50 percent assembled, and presumably owners will be able to fly them about on a private pilot's license in the USA as experimental/home built aircraft. It appears there'll be an option to add some bumper bars that might help keep kids, dogs and unsuspecting pedestrians away from the spinning props, but there's going to be a lot of rapidly spinning carbon fiber in the air near the pilot's head and shoulders in a crash either way.
Jetson has filmed some terrific video of a guy flying one of these things around. Wisely, they've stayed close to the ground, so there's a real sense of dynamic motion to the footage and it just looks like brilliant fun. That might end up being a relatively safe and entertaining way to fly these things too, like zero-gravity dune buggies.
Mind you, the pilot deliberately gets pretty damn close to some trees, so either he really trusts that obstacle avoidance system, or he's got it switched off, or else it doesn't stop you from flying into trees, which I'd personally consider a problem. I've never flown a personal eVTOL, but I think I'd like it best when it wasn't flying into trees.
The flight endurance is pretty disappointing: an 85 kg (187 lb) pilot can expect just 15 minutes of airborne giggles before the battery needs to go back on the charger, presumably for a decent chunk of time. Fifteen minutes is a long time if you're holding your breath, but it's not a long time if you're trying to master and enjoy your new US$92,000 toy. Yes, $92,000, with $22,000 down as a deposit to reserve a build slot. So it ain't cheap for something you can't take your kids in.
And finally, as we mentioned at the top, Jetson's already sold out its entire 2022 production run of 12 units. At this stage there appear to be only three slots left for 2023.
Still, it's a working personal buy 'n' fly eVTOL with a price tag and a production schedule, that you can have in your own shed within two years. That puts it on a very short list. And Jetson has done a great job of capturing what these things might feel like to fly, so enjoy that aerial video below!
Source: Jetson Aero