A trio of airframers unveiled new electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) urban air taxi vehicles at the second-annual Uber Elevate summit, which was held this week in Los Angeles.
Embraer revealed the four-seat “DreamMaker” from its new Embraer X division, which is based in Melbourne, Florida, with innovation teams established in Silicon Valley and Boston. The DreamMaker's fuselage doesn't stray far from that of a traditional helicopter, but the eVTOL is propelled through the air by eight electric motor-driven rotors and a tailfan. “We are relentless in our quest for constant growth, and through Embraer X we will drive disruptive innovation and accelerate the creation of new businesses with the potential for exponential growth. Urban mobility is ripe for transformation and we are committed to having a major role in this key market,” said Embraer CEO Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva.
In addition, Karem Aircraft launched its quad-rotor Butterfly that features the company's “optimum speed rotor” technology. Karem CEO Ben Tigner said the variable-speed design delivers “higher inherent levels of safety and lower noise than other designs. Our large rotors let us draw less power from the batteries than vehicles with smaller rotors, enabling immediate economic viability without waiting for future batteries.”
Slovenia-based Pipistrel took the wraps off a family of eVTOLs that use a bat-wing design with separate dedicated lift and tilt systems. “Nothing tilts,” said Pipistrel's director of research and development Tine Tomazic, who provided few details other than that the new vehicles are “screaming fast.” Tomazic said Pipistrel is partnering with recreational products company Elan to source the composites to build the vehicles.
Meanwhile, Uber said it is adding Los Angeles as a third test market for its Elevate network, joining Dallas and Dubai, and expects to start flying there by 2023.