Rolls-Royce, the British engine manufacturer has disclosed plans to develop a hybrid electric vehicle that can also fly, taking off and landing vertically. The vehicle dubbed the “ Flying taxi ” could be airborne within the next five years.
These plans were disclosed at the Farnborough Airshow for the first time as Rolls- Royce expressed optimism of manufacturing a prototype version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle in the next 18 months. The vehicle ” Flying Taxi ” could potential hit the skies in the early 2020s.
The EVTOL will have a capacity to seat four or five people, with a flying range of 500 miles (805 kilometers) and driving range of 200 miles per hour.
“In this market, you will see something like this flying within three to five years, and we will demonstrate the system in two years,” said Rob Watson, Rolls-Royce’s electrical team head.
“At the end of next year we will be flight ready,” he added.
The EVTOL ” Flying Taxi” has so cost the London listed aerospace giant single digit millions of pounds to develop and will make use of the traditional gas turbine engine in addition to an electrical system wrapped around it. However the company is also working on developing an all-electric product though work on this is still far from the level of the EVTOL.
“There is an emerging market for all-electric planes but we believe that you need a level of requirement that an all-electric system cannot really provide today,” Watson said.
“So, all-electric is the way to hop around within a city, but if you want to travel 200 or 300 miles, if you want to run London to Paris, then you are going to want to run something that will give you that range.”
“So we think you will see hybrid propulsion systems starting to make this market.”
Rolls Royce doesn’t seem to be the only one working on “ Flying Taxi ” concept as other firms including US taxi hailing company Uber, Lilium Aviation in Germany, Safran in France, the Google-backed Kitty Hawk project and Honeywell in the United States are all also researching the sector.