Aston Martin's flying taxi concept envisages luxurious inter-city travel
Aston Martin is the latest transport heavyweight to enter the flying taxi scene, joining the likes of Boeing, Airbus and, as of this week, Rolls-Royce. It has actually teamed up with the lattermost of these on its first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which it says was dreamt up with luxury, inter-city travel in mind.
The names mentioned above are just a taste of the action taking place in the flying taxi space. NASA, for example, is investing in the development of advanced batteries to power these machines and is working on new air traffic management systems together with Uber, which is developing flying taxis of its own.
There are also a host of startups that proved rather quick out of the blocks. Volocopter has been testing its 18-rotor aircraft for a number of years with trials underway in Dubai, while Ehang and Surefly recently performed their first manned flights, as did the autonomous Passenger Drone.
The designs of these vary but all are built to more or less carry out the same task, lift urban folks up and over busy city centers to cut commute times, improve air quality and reduce congestion on the ground. Most take an electric-only approach, although some, like the Surefly and Rolls-Royce's EVTOL, use a hybrid powertrain for the extra range that it promises.
Aston Martin's newly announced Volante Vision Concept would also use a hybrid-electric powertrain, with the cabin designed to carry three adults autonomously across urban centers, and even allow for "inter-city air travel."
"Humans have always spent on average, one hour commuting to and from work," says Aston Martin President and CEO Dr Andy Palmer. "The distance we live from our workplace has been determined by the methods of transportation available. The Volante Vision Concept will enable us to travel further with our hourly commute, meaning we are able to live further away from where we work. Cities will grow, and towns that are today too far away from cities to be commutable will become suburban."
The concept was cooked up with Rolls-Royce, which worked on the hybrid-electric propulsion side of things, along with aerospace researchers from the UK's Cranfield University, who focused on autonomous flight technologies. Where there are now plenty of available performance specs and footage of the aforementioned flying taxis in action, there's very little technical detail offered on Aston Martin's new concept.
Ok, there's precisely zero. So you do wonder if the company is genuinely pursuing this as a possible mode of transport, or sharing a half-baked idea to tack its name onto a trend that might bring some PR benefits now or further down the track. If nothing else, having another big player on the flying taxi scene does further validate an idea that seemed like pure science fiction not too long ago.
The company is presenting the concept at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, which runs from July 16 to 22, while the video below shows what it might look like if it took to the skies.
Source: Aston Martin