Bell Helicopter hasn't traditionally been one to go crazy with futuristic aircraft concepts, but lately it has been letting its imagination run wild just a little. The company has dropped into CES in Las Vegas this week with a flying taxi cabin design that it says demonstrates its vision for on-demand aircraft that carry people over urban centers.
The massive migration of people to cities over the past half a century has made issues like worsening traffic and pollution ones that we can't really afford to ignore. How people move around urban centers in the future will have a huge part to play in that, and long-promised flying taxis are shaping as an increasingly feasible solution.
Everybody from NASA to Airbus to Boeing and a raft of lesser-known startups are pumping serious money into these types of aircraft, and now Bell Helicopter seems to be at least exploring the idea. Details are pretty scarce for the unnamed air taxi cabin design revealed at CES, but images reveal a four-seater cabin designed to put those unfamiliar with vertical flight at ease..
Bell says a control center inside will allow users to do things like catch up on the news, hold conference calls and share documents. To show everybody what it means, it has hooked up an augmented reality simulator inside so CES attendees can take virtual trips across cities during the day and night, and even make a red-carpet premiere landing.
Although only the cabin design is on display at CES to keep focus on the passenger experience, the company is working on a complete air taxi to go with it, featuring rotors and an electric powertrain. Bell says it will reveal the vehicle in full sometime in the future.
"Bell Helicopter is innovating at the limits of vertical flight and challenging the traditional notion of aviation to solve real-world problems," said Bell Helicopter President and CEO Mitch Snyder. "The future of urban air taxi is closer than many people realize. We believe in the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide."
Source: Bell Helicopter
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