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eVTOL News on the Fly 

Short Hops Around the eVTOL Industry

[GIF credit: Nikita Konopatov]
[GIF credit: Nikita Konopatov]

Flying Pods? Da. Hydrogen-fueled flying pods. Da.

While eVTOL developers are working on electric flying cars (Duh!) or hybrid-powered VTOLs, one Russian futurist imagines a VTOL fueled exclusively by hydrogen. He’s designed one in the shape of a hydrogen cell.

Muscovite Nikita Konopatov, a “2-D artist and designer,” unveiled his concept, called Future Center Europe, a bubble-shaped passenger compartment with two adjacent fuel cells. As hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce energy, the only emission is water, making the Future Center Europe eco-friendly and fuel-efficient.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a hydrogen-powered vehicle can travel twice as far on half as much fuel as a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle. And, without any moving parts to the engine, no oil change is required of a hydrogen-powered engine.

No word yet on whether Future Center Europe has garnered any public or private development funding. Also unclear is whether the vehicle is autonomous or, for that matter, if it will ever get off the ground.

UAM en Paris? Oui.

The City of Paris has declared its commitment to an urban environment transformed by VTOLs. Dubbed Re.Invent Air Mobility, the Paris Region, Groupe ADP, and RATP Group have joined forces to set a course for “safe, sustainable, and state-of-the-art integration” for UAM in the greater Paris region.

The initiative seeks input on everything from vehicle development to ground infrastructure, airspace integration to operations, and, ultimately, a regulatory framework, and public acceptance.

Successful applicants will be eligible for funding from the French government and the European Union (EU). If successful, participants will be connected with stakeholders at every level of the ecosystem and invited to showcase their concepts or products at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to be held in Paris in 2024.

Parking areas, electrical recharging systems, and ground markings will be exhibited and take-off and landing operations will be demonstrated as well.

The period to submit applications is open through November 13, 2020. Winners will be announced on December 18, 2020.

Volocopter has already submitted an application to trial its Volocity concept at the Pointoise Airfield about 20 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of the French capital.

Hyundai Goes All-In on UAM

Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s largest automaker, recently told Bloomberg News it will not only develop a single flying car, but it plans an entire line of airborne vehicles.

Jaiwon Shin, head of the company’s urban air mobility (UAM) unit, expects to produce models that can transport five to six passengers all the way up to bus-sized vehicles.

While aiming for its first product to be ready as early as 2023, Shin said the company is aiming for a market-ready vehicle in 2028.

To reach its goals, Hyundai formed New Horizons Studio and appointed Shin to the division’s leadership role.

From its base in Silicon Valley, the team will add to the acronym-laden jumble of technological innovation by focusing on the development of ultimate mobility vehicles (UMVs). The UMVs will include the Hyundai Elevate (for its partnership with ride-sharing company, Uber) which will use robotics and wheeled locomotion technologies for off-road terrain and off-ground transportation.

Hyundai hopes to capitalize on what Morgan Stanley analysts predict will be an industry worth between US$615 billion and US$2.9 trillion by 2040.

Israel’s Gadfin and Italy’s Enel Agree on eVTOL Drone Development Project

[Photo credit: Gadfin]

Rehovot, Israel-based Gadfin, an aero-logistics developer of eVTOLs, and Rome, Italy-based Enel, a multinational energy provider, have teamed up to provide drone solutions to remotely inspect power lines.

INFRALAB, a Haifa, Israel-based construction and infrastructure project set up by Israel’s Shikun & Binui, will work with the Israeli and Italian teams to survey about 500,000 miles (about 800,000 kilometers) of power lines using Gadfin’s Spirit One long-range performance drone.

Some 35 companies submitted bids for the project, which is worth about US$12 million annually.

The Spirit One has a maximum take-off weight of 55 pounds (about 25 kilograms) and a range of about 150 miles (about 250 kilometers).

Gadfin was the first Israeli firm to get permission from the Israel Civil Aviation Authority to deliver medical supplies and other equipment between hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare providers. Watch its video here.




Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer who is fascinated by the way technology changes our lives.