New Atlas 20th Anniversary

Early milestones in electric VTOL history

Early milestones in electric V...
NASA Engineer Mark Moore created the Puffin eVTOL concept back in 2009
NASA Engineer Mark Moore created the Puffin eVTOL concept back in 2009
View 22 Images
The Puffin in full flight ... electric motors deliver a top speed of around 150mph and a range of 50 miles - plenty for that daily journey to work and back! (Image: NASA)
1/22
The Puffin in full flight ... electric motors deliver a top speed of around 150mph and a range of 50 miles - plenty for that daily journey to work and back! (Image: NASA)
The Puffin is a vertical take-off personal air vehicle concept (Image: NASA)
2/22
The Puffin is a vertical take-off personal air vehicle concept (Image: NASA)
The innovators behind the SoloTrek/Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle have announced plans to develop the world's first fuel-electric hybrid flying car
3/22
The innovators behind the SoloTrek/Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle have announced plans to develop the world's first fuel-electric hybrid flying car
An envisioned Personal Aerial Vehicle illustrates what our city skies could soon look like (Image by Gareth Padfield, Flight Stability and Control)
4/22
An envisioned Personal Aerial Vehicle illustrates what our city skies could soon look like (Image by Gareth Padfield, Flight Stability and Control)
Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight
5/22
Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight
Pascal Chretien with his prototype electric helicopter
6/22
Pascal Chretien with his prototype electric helicopter
Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight
7/22
Pascal Chretien's prototype electric helicopter takes flight
The e-volo accomplished the world's first manned flight of an electric multicopter in 2011
8/22
The e-volo accomplished the world's first manned flight of an electric multicopter in 2011
The e-volo team during the Volocopter's maiden flight in the dm-arena
9/22
The e-volo team during the Volocopter's maiden flight in the dm-arena
German aircraft company e-volo has accomplished what it claims is the world's first manned flight of an electric multicopter
10/22
German aircraft company e-volo has accomplished what it claims is the world's first manned flight of an electric multicopter
The city of Dubai has signed on to trial the Voloctoper 2 later this year
11/22
The city of Dubai has signed on to trial the Voloctoper 2 later this year
The GL-10 prototype takes off in hover mode like a helicopter (Photo: NASA Langley/David C. Bowman)
12/22
The GL-10 prototype takes off in hover mode like a helicopter (Photo: NASA Langley/David C. Bowman)
The GL-10 prototype successfully transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight during several test flights (Photo:NASA Langley/Gary Banziger)
13/22
The GL-10 prototype successfully transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight during several test flights (Photo:NASA Langley/Gary Banziger)
Joby conceives the S2 VTOL tilt-rotor aircraft as a kind of commuter aircraft
14/22
Joby conceives the S2 VTOL tilt-rotor aircraft as a kind of commuter aircraft
In cruise configuration, the Joby S2 VTOL tilt-rotor aircraft's 12 tilting VTOL propellers fold away into aerodynamic bullet shapes
15/22
In cruise configuration, the Joby S2 VTOL tilt-rotor aircraft's 12 tilting VTOL propellers fold away into aerodynamic bullet shapes
Taking off and landing like a helicopter, the Lilium aircraft goes from VTOL to forward flight by swiveling its engines
16/22
Taking off and landing like a helicopter, the Lilium aircraft goes from VTOL to forward flight by swiveling its engines
We first caught wind of the Lilium Jet back in 2016
17/22
We first caught wind of the Lilium Jet back in 2016
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
18/22
If things continue to run as planned for e-volo, it plans to start building large quantities of the Volocopter and enter the market within the next two years
The human-totin' Ehang 184 AAV at CES
19/22
The human-totin' Ehang 184 AAV at CES
The Ehang 184 AAV's arms can fold up when the drone is parked on the ground, allowing it to take up less space
20/22
The Ehang 184 AAV's arms can fold up when the drone is parked on the ground, allowing it to take up less space
The coming wave of urban air mobility could see air taxis land on vertiports built into the top of urban parking garages
21/22
The coming wave of urban air mobility could see air taxis land on vertiports built into the top of urban parking garages
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
22/22
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
View gallery - 22 images

In the last few years, the electric VTOL world has been inundated with an avalanche of cash, talent and ideas – it's been a long time since there was this much fresh energy in aviation. Companies like Joby, Lilium, Archer, Vertical Aerospace, eHang and others have gone public at sky-high valuations, promising to revolutionise urban and inter-city transport with clean, quiet, affordable electric air taxis.

Indeed, the whole thing is starting to look very sensible and corporate, and it's easy to forget that this movement is only just entering its teenage years. Not that long ago, the pinnacle of eVTOL achievement was a brave German physicist sitting on a yoga ball in the air.

So as long as we're sitting here beaming with pride celebrating New Atlas's 20th year covering significant moments in all manner of human achievements, we thought it'd be a great chance to look back at our early impressions of the eVTOL movement, and a few milestone events that we've seen in the 13 years since the idea first came to the public consciousness in a NASA engineer's 2009 research project, sparking the revolutionary fire that burns today.

Check out the original render video of Mark Moore's Puffin personal air vehicle below.

NASA Puffin Low Noise, Electric VTOL Personal Air Vehicle

As well as the early ideas and designs, it's also pretty amazing to glance back at our first look at a few companies that are now working on colossal mass-production plans with billion dollar-plus war chests. Some of the promised timelines will draw a smile, too!

We hope you enjoyed this brief retrospective. If our work here at New Atlas is valuable to you, the best way you can support our coverage is with a subscription to ad-free New Atlas Plus. It costs just $19 for a year, and your contribution would make our day!

View gallery - 22 images
No comments
0 comments
There are no comments. Be the first!