Passenger drones, drone taxis, Automated Aerial Vehicles (AAV): as a few companies like Ehang, Volocopter and others move into test flight programs, large car manufacturers are thinking forward to the next generation of passenger transportation. Fiat Chrysler announced a partnership last week with drone taxi startup Archer to produce a flying car: GM showed off a prototype at this year’s CES show. Volkswagon has already demonstrated a concept under the Porsche Audi brands at Amsterdam’s Drone Week in 2019.
“Over the next several years, GM will be investing heavily into its Ultium EV hardware program. Early applications will focus on revolutionizing the automotive industry and providing EV’s for a wide variety of customers’ needs,” reports CNET.
“The preliminary prototype appears to be 1-passenger configuration, although the company hinted at future models which can hold an additional passenger. Both models would likely be autonomous, not requiring any pilot inputs by passengers. Not much else is known about the prototype or when it can be expected to take flight.”
Whatever you call them, small autonomous passenger aircraft solve a significant problem for many cities around the world, where ground traffic infrastructure cannot be expanded further. Urban air mobility (UAM) concepts all agree on the need to utilize vertical space in order to solve transportation problems.
While car companies are far from introducing the first eVTOL, passenger drone, or flying car models, their entry into the market signifies that the the concept is moving mainstream. The existing production capabilities of major car companies like GM could mean that when regulations and public acceptance allow eVTOLs as a common means of transportation, a cost effective flying car might be available for purchase.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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