Bell Air Taxi on the Move
The Uber/Bell Flight partnership to create an urban air taxi system in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is on a tight schedule. Both companies want the Uber Elevate system operating between the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Frisco Station by 2023, with first test flights expected by 2020. Given the schedule, there’s speculation that a recent patent Bell filed for an eVTOL concept could be the Bell Air Taxi.
The patent drawings look similar to a cabin concept unveiled by Bell at the 2018 CES show. At the time, no propulsion system was showcased, and conference attendees used a virtual reality system to experience how the air taxi system would work.
Bell’s Vice President of Innovation, Scott Drennan, said at CES that the company wanted to keep its propulsion system under wraps due to concerns about competition. The Bell Air Taxi could conceivably convert a 90-minute rush-hour urban commute into a 6-minute trip.
The patent shows two versions: one for a one-passenger vehicle; another for six passengers. Bell’s initial propulsion technology is expected to be an electric hybrid, with an eventual goal of fully electric vehicles. The patent shows that the vehicles could recharge wirelessly on a landing pad.
The patent looks similar to Bell’s FCX-001 (Future Concept X). This concept helicopter was built, not to be deployed, but to showcase the various electric technologies that Bell could use in future helicopters or VTOLs.
Bell is known for its production of military and civilian helicopters. One of Uber’s requirements for its partners is that the company can meet its technology specifications and scale production to the tens of thousands of eVTOLs Uber anticipates using globally.