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Uber, the world's leading cab service company, has unveiled a full-size flying taxi concept at CES 2019 earlier last week. The Uber flying taxi concept was created by aircraft manufacturing company, Bell.
Called the Bell Nexus, the 600-pound hybrid aircraft has a claimed range of 150 miles (241 kilometres). Even though it is still in a concept format, Uber's flying taxi has a single-turbine powertrain which can generate enough electric power to propel the six-rotor setup.
Bell is one of the first aircraft companies who've partnered with Uber to make flying taxi services a reality. It was in 2017 when Uber expressed an interest to create a city-based flying-cab network to curb the delay in commuting through an urban environment.
The new Bell Nexus is the company's first attempt at making an eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing). Bell has a strong portfolio in the field of aircraft development and has always been at the forefront of aviation technology; especially military-related.
Bell shared that autonomous or self-flying capability is still something they are working on. For the same reason, the Bell Nexus can seat four passengers and a pilot. The company also aims to bring some advanced control equipment in order to bring down the complexities involved in flight training.
The Bell Nexus is engineered in a way such that it will be able to fly safely and efficiently even if one of its six rotors fail. In the event of an engine malfunction, the onboard battery will automatically kick in to give enough propulsion thrust and time to safely land the aircraft.
The entire design and systems involved are made as simple as possible so as to enable their easy fixture. This will particularly help in reducing maintenance costs and functioning hindrances; especially in fleet operations.
Bell has reportedly teamed up with quite a few partners to assemble the Nexus. Safran, the French jet engine specialists, will manufacture the hybrid propulsion system. Meanwhile, Thales (another French aviation technology expert) handles the control systems.
Similarly, the batteries will be sourced from EPS. Flight control hardware and avionics are to be supplied by Moog and Garmin, respectively.
When can you expect one in a usable format, you wonder? "Mid-2020s," says Scott Drennan, Director of Innovation at Bell.
Thoughts On The Uber Flying Taxi Concept
Imagine getting late to office and regular cabs are nowhere close by. This is the perfect instance in which Uber's flying taxi concept makes the most sense — no traffic up in the air; no delay to get to work. However, the concept still has a long way to go to become feasible in most parts of the world. The surroundings should be 'flying-friendly' while the local infrastructure should support such a mode of transportation.