Wisk flies ‘first-ever’ demonstration of fully autonomous eVTOL
Wisk has reported flying the “first-ever public demonstration” of a fully autonomous eVTOL fixed-wing air taxi.
The demonstration, which took place at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, saw Wisk’s fifth generation aircraft, Cora vertically take off into the Wisconsin sky and perform multiple autonomous transitions up and down the runway. Unlike remotely piloted aircraft that are flown with flight controls by a human on the ground, Wisk’s aircraft fly themselves while being monitored from the ground. A ground-based supervisor can intervene and send new commands for the aircraft to execute autonomously.
The Californian OEM made its EAA Oshkosh debut this year where it is also displaying its sixth generation air taxi in the Wisk chalet. Additionally, Wisk hosted a forum session addressing the impact of autonomous air taxis on general aviation, including a panel of general aviation pilots that work at the company.
Brian Yutko, CEO of Wisk, said: “It was so amazing yesterday to open the historic Oshkosh air show with a flight by Cora, our 5th gen aircraft. This was the first public demonstration flight in our company’s history. As best I can tell, this was also the first ever general public flight of an electric aircraft that transitions from hover flight to wing-borne flight. We flew multiple autonomous transitions up and down the runway, and finished at crowd center with a hat tip towards the crowd.
“Many of our employees are pilots and we have long dreamed of sharing the groundbreaking, innovative work that we’re doing at Oshkosh. This year, we’re fulfilling that dream. We are excited to introduce the Oshkosh community to our sixth generation air taxi and to sharing more about how autonomous flight is going to positively change the future of aviation,” he added.
Yutko recently spoke to Revolution.Aero at June’s Paris Air Show 2023 where he described how building safe and scaleable ground infrastructure to allow people to interact with autonomous aircraft is key to Wisk’s plans. “Even though we don’t have an onboard pilot, we always have to have a human that is overseeing the airplane. We designed the ground stations and the ability for a person to in a way that is safe and scaleable,” he said.
Yutko said Wisk does a lot of work in its California-based autonomy lab designing what those interfaces look like. “Ultimately, the people on the ground who oversee the airplanes do not fly it with a joystick, they have a keyboard and mouse. They can provide very high- level commands such as ‘takeoff’ or ‘land now’, but that is effectively the extent of the type of input a person on the ground can give to the airplane.”