Who can it be now? Revolution news #44

It is rare to have a week in which several sections of the aircraft industry – start-up and legacy manufacturers, tech and software companies – progress at once, in some way or another. 

Autonomous VTOLs would not be able to fly without some airtight flight software. And Swiss start-up Daedalean AI is making sure of this. It has raised approximately CHF11.8 million ($12 million) in its second venture capital round, led by Australian lender Carthona Capital and three unspecified “business angels” as contributors. 

Luuk van Dijk, Daedalean's founder and CEO, told Revolution.Aero that a "small, safe and silent future with personal air taxis was infeasible without autonomy".

He said: “As we demonstrated on our recent flight tests with Volocopter and other partners, Daedalean is well on its way to developing the needed capabilities.”

EAA AirVenture, the Wisconsin-based air show, has been around since 1953. But it has attracted more and more experimental exhibitors every year. Some of the hottest UAM highlights from this year included:

  • Veteran: Airbus's single passenger eVTOL Vahana, which completed 50 test-flight hours this January.

 

  • Google it: Google’s founder Larry Page backed start-up Opener, which presented its equivalent, the BlackFly – an all-electric VTOL capable of 130 kph at cruise speed.

 

  • Retrofit: Ampaire's EEL, a retrofitted hybrid-electric Cessna 377 Skymaster, that has already received 50 commercial orders from on-demand charter Personal Airline Exchange (PAX).

 

Florida-based VerdeGo Aero and Continental Aerospace Technologies also announced a new partnership at the air show. VerdeGo’s Integrated Distributed Electric Propulsion (IDEP) system and Continental’s manufacturing expertise will create hybrid-electric propulsion systems for short-range air taxi operations.

With a list of almost-200 VTOL companies out there, the end is nowhere in sight. Spanish tech and research outfit, Tecnalia, conducted the first test-flight of its prototype air taxi recently. It’s a 16-rotor eVTOL that is flown by independently controlled drones on four arms.

A Tecnalia spokesperson said this allows the “cabin to maintain its orientation regardless of speed, a clear advantage over conventional drones and current ‘air taxi’ applications”. Although these are early days, the company aims to have experimental flights in Los Angeles, Dallas, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo in 2020.

The term ‘flying car’ is often associated with the movies. But start-up AeroMobil’s latest, the AeroMobil 4.0, might change that for good. It’s a cross between a sports car and a very light aircraft – suitable for driving on roads and short take-off and landing (STOL). With a starting price of €1.2m ($1.3m), the 4.0 will aim for test-flight later this year.

What’s more? The Slovak company has a concept for the AeroMobil 5.0 VTOL. This week at Revolution.Aero it might be safe to say we've seen it all.