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Urban Aeronautics Announces Full-scale Deployment of Flying Car

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【Summary】With help from two startups that are wholly owned by the business (subsidiaries), the company plans to launch the service by 2022.

Michael Cheng    Aug 03, 2018 10:16 AM PT
Urban Aeronautics Announces Full-scale Deployment of Flying Car

Israel-based Urban Aeronautics could be the startup to beat in the race to commercialize flying cars. The company announced the start of full-scale deployment for its VTOL-powered aircrafts. 

With help from two startups that are wholly owned by the business (subsidiaries), the company plans to launch the service by 2022. Urban Aeronautics has managed to keep its projects ‘under the radar' by using its subsidiaries to develop and test prototypes.

CityHawk

CityHawk is an aircraft being developed by Urban Aeronautics, designed for public transportation. The unit can accommodate up to six passengers and reach a top speed of 170 mph. Two turboshaft engines power the rotors, which are located at the front and back of the aircraft. At the moment, the engines are supported by electric generators. The startup is considering the use of hydrogen propulsion to boost performance (more on this later).

For safety, the unit is equipped with a ballistic parachute that can be deployed during emergencies. According to the business, the cabin can be arranged to suit the needs of specific services. Executive transportation could be equipped with communication equipment, a conference cubicle and less seating; while applications for grouped flights may incorporate benches and large monitors.

"Today's innovation needs to anticipate tomorrow's technology in order to optimize it's potential," highlighted the company.

Urban Aeronautics has been testing a similar unit under Tactical Robotics (a subsidiary of the startup). Called the Cormorant, the flying car is unmanned and also incorporates a dual-rotor configuration. To date, developers have completed more than 250 test flights with the aircraft.

Under Metro Skyways, another subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics, a jumbo-sized version of the flying car is being developed. Called the Falcon XP, the unit can accommodate 14 passengers inside its spacious cabin.

Fuel-cell Technology and Performance

While most flying car startups are committed to utilizing battery-powered engines and even traditional motors (for recreational models), Urban Aeronautics isn't interested in such solutions. Instead, the company will leverage hydrogen fuel cells to power its aircrafts.

After careful consideration, the business believes its selected option is more sustainable and capable of supporting the power requirements of flying cars. For now, the hybrid units are not equipped to solely run on fuel cells. Urban Aeronautics will transition to hydrogen fuel after conducting a set of manned flights, which are scheduled for 2021-2022.

"Unlike batteries, H2 fuel cells don't have a limited life cycle and generate zero toxic waste. All this while packing an energy density that is an order of magnitude greater than today's batteries or even carbon-based fuel," said the flying car startup.

"With this technology just around the corner, why would we want to design an aircraft powered by anything else?"

Compliance is a major hurdle for startups in the nascent sector. CityHawk is classified as a twin-engine helicopter and must adhere to specific FAA regulations for proper certification. When it comes to performance, dual-rotor configurations promote stability and speed during operation. The additional rotor allows the unit to carry more weight, which is applicable to facilitating comfortable rides and lifting heavy cargo. 

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