Bell Textron unveiled an electric air taxi this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – and it’s one of the coolest concept vehicles that we have ever seen. DRONELIFE caught up with Cary Cannon, Bell’s Chief Engineer of Innovation, on the show floor. “We have seen a big shift in aviation,” says Cannon. “10 years ago we would not have considered batteries, but today it makes much more sense… Electric propulsion allows you to dramatically simplify the propulsion systems.”
While the vehicle is still a concept, Cannon says that implementation may not be that far off. “Bell is uniquely situated in that we understand the certification process needed as well as how to build aircraft and integrated the necessary systems for safe flight,” says Cannon.
The following is from a Bell Textron Press Release.
Bell Reveals the City of the Future at CES 2020
Bell brings the conversation on infrastructure, urban planning and multi-modal transportation to the forefront
CES 2020 – Las Vegas (Jan. 6, 2020) – Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT)
company, reveals at CES a vivid look into the future of the smart city ecosystem. The Bell Nexus air taxi and the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) – both groundbreaking technologies –will coexist to move people, products and information across connected cities.“With a focus on the passenger experience, we revealed the technology and the vehicle that will revolutionize transportation in cities at CES 2019; this year, we’re demonstrating what governing, operating, working and living in a smart city will look like,” said Mitch Snyder, Bell president and CEO.
In a world where nearly 70 percent of the population will be living in urban areas by 2050 and cities are outgrowing their current transportations systems, the need for urban mobility solutions has never been greater. Fortunately, the transportation industry has reached an inflection point, and many of the world’s top minds are working toward solutions for the optimal smart city design. Bell remains at the forefront of this pursuit with a clear mission of finding solutions to the infrastructure challenges of tomorrow’s transportation networks.
These solutions and many smart city elements are on display in Bell’s Nexus City on the CES show floor:
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) & Bell AerOS
Bell features its MaaS plans which look beyond the aircraft and demonstrate how to integrate MaaS into communities, making on-demand air mobility available to everyone–whenever they need it.
Bell’s service is powered by Bell AerOS, a proprietary system running on Microsoft Azure
created to manage fleet information, observe aircraft health, and manage throughput of goods, products and predictive data and maintenance. This digital infrastructure is prevalent in Bell’s Smart City vision at the show and serves as another step in bringing connected mobility to the masses.
“Bell continues to lead the conversation beyond the aircraft to offer multi-modal transportation solutions and experiences within an interconnected digital network that will excite consumers, earn their trust and make their lives easier,” said Snyder.
Bell showcases the evolution of the Bell Nexus–the Bell Nexus 4EX (Four for the number of
ducted fans, E for Electric and X for experimental). The aircraft features Bell’s signature powered-lift concept with four tilting ducted fans that can be configured as hybrid-electric or all-electric. Bell believes this design unlocks the key for all electric technology, but the vehicle will remain propulsion agnostic depending on customer needs.
“The vision for the Bell Nexus remains the same, but by taking a mature system level approach to design for an objective market vehicle, we believe this configuration unlocks a capable, certifiable and commercially viable product,” said Snyder.
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