We’ve written before about the coming shift in aviation: a world where, we guess about five years from now, you might be able to order a passenger-carrying drone to pick you up and deliver you across a congested urban landscape. And now, at least potentially, you can add flying cars to the mix.

The aerospace world is changing rapidly. Drones are becoming increasingly sophisticated and increasingly automated. Tons of work is being done to automate processes that will allow crewed and uncrewed aircraft to safely share airspace while also minimizing any risk to people or structures on the ground. This blend of drones and aircraft over cities is often referred to as Urban Air Mobility, or UAM.

But there’s another acronym out there we’ve also touched on: AAM, or Advanced Air Mobility.

AAM

If this is new to you, you’re not alone. This is an emerging aerospace sector that’s worth explaining. We happened upon this definition of AAM in this excellent post from Deloitte:

Advanced air mobility (AAM)—the emergence of transformative airborne technology to transport people and goods in new, community-friendly, and cost-effective aircraft in both rural and urban environments—represents the next inflection point in the aerospace industry’s ongoing evolution.5 AAM is expected to be the next significant change in mobility and perhaps the global economy, as it could lead to fundamentally new capabilities and applications that were previously not feasible. AAM technologies promise to transform how people and cargo are moved, driving the United States’ economic engine. In the country alone, the AAM market is estimated to reach US$115 billion annually by 2035, employing more than 280,000 high-paying jobs.

So it’s going to be a big deal.

Drone ‘taxis’

Pay-per-use flights, whether for transporting people or cargo, will be coming. Chinese firm EHang is one of the clear leaders in this emerging field and has carried out many automated flights already with people on board:

Yes, that drone is flying itself – and carrying a passenger
The interior view

In fact…

EHang already has its sights set on the Advanced Air Mobility sector, recently announcing a new VTOL that incorporates a fixed-wing for greater range and efficiency. Colleague @IshveenaSingh wrote recently about its latest design, intended for intra-city travel:

EHang’s VT-30

Will flying cars be part of the mix?

Possibly – and perhaps likely. One of the most recent to cross our paths comes from Klein Vision. The company recently marked a milestone with a flight of its AirCar Prototype 1, successfully carrying out a 35-minute flight between two major airports in Slovakia. And then, after landing, it was able to transition to car mode in a mere three minutes. The next paragraph comes from the company’s news release:

The AirCar Prototype 1 is equipped with a 160HP BMW engine with fixed-propeller and a ballistic parachute. Under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority, the AirCar has completed over 40 hours of test flights, including steep 45 degree turns and stability and maneuverability testing. AirCar Prototype 1 has flown at 8200 ft and reached a maximum cruising speed of 190km/h (119 mph). 

The next prototype, says the release, will feature 300 hp under the hood and feature a variable pitch propellor. Anticipated specs are for 300 km/hr cruise speed (188 mph) with a range of 1,000 km (625 miles).

Let’s see it fly (and drive)!

You’ve got it. Check this out:

That’s pretty impressive…

No kidding.

We wish Klein Vision success with this project and hope for an electric version somewhere down the runway.

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