A startup called NeXt says it’s working on new e-VTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) vehicles called iFLY and Pegasus that could become your personal transport drones.
Pegasus, you may recall, is a mythical winged horse, and now, NeXt UAS plans to take this myth and bring it to reality. Except, it won’t be a horse, of course. It will likely be an eight-motor, electrically powered drone that you can program with a smartphone app for your destination. NeXt is just the latest in a rush of companies working on compact, autonomous vehicles that might one day whisk you over crowded urban centers or perhaps even take you for a nice ride over scenic vistas.
It’s not market-ready yet, but it is worth a preview.
NeXt plans personal e-VTOL
In reading the NeXt website, it actually appears the company may be working on two different vehicles: Pegasus and another called iFLY. Its website says the company is driven by passion, technology — and the future:
NeXt is an advanced air mobility startup guided by four principles: a passion for invention in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology space, an obsession with safety, a commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. iFLY is one of several eVTOL validated and proven concepts pioneered by NeXt and part of our mission to make personal air vehicles a reality for the masses and part of our greater long-term vision to enhance the sustainability of our planet for future generations.
Both Pegasus and iFLY are based on the concept of having a personal drone-like vehicle that will carry a single (or married, if they’re traveling alone) person safely through the air. Here’s how the company describes what it’s up to:
is an all-new, all-electric 100% Propulsion Controlled vertical takeoff and landing personal air vehicle – Air Motorcycle – created for safe, convenient and planet-friendly transportation. NeXt is seeking an investment partner for funding Pegasus and iFLY which have both undergone extensive successful proof-of-concept flight testing. Pegasus currently has a Patent Pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
What does the NeXt iFLY e-VTOL look like?
Well, we’re going from images from its website here, which appear to be CGI. Regardless, the iFly is an unusual design featuring eight electric motors in a unique quasi-X8 configuration. Rather than having the motors all on the same horizontal plane, four are mounted on the bottom of the craft and four on top. We’re not aerospace engineers, but we have to assume there’s a technical advantage to the design. We do wonder about prop-wash from the overhead motors potentially interfering with the lower motors, but we have to assume the NeXt engineers have a reason for this design.
Here’s a gallery, with all images via NeXt:
Video of the iFly e-VTOL craft
Now, we wish this was a video of the real thing, but the company isn’t there yet. That’s okay. This video still gives you a better idea of the design and what the company has planned. Unfortunately, NeXt has disabled embedding, so you’ll have to pop open a new tab here to see the video.
If you like this concept…
And if you’ve got some cash to spare, it appears (as you may have noted in that earlier quote) that NeXt is looking for investors:
iFLY is an all-new, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing personal air vehicle created for safe, convenient and planet-friendly transportation. NeXt is seeking an investment partner for funding iFLY which has undergone extensive successful proof-of-concept flight testing and has recently been awarded United States Patent 10,427,790.
The world of Advanced Air Mobility is coming. How long it will take to figure out all of the technical issues to minimize risk and certify aircraft like these is another question, although NeXt “is currently exploring the possibility to qualify iFLY initially as a Powered Ultralight by the FAA so that no pilot’s license will be required to fly.”
Some startups, as in any sector, will fail, and others will thrive. But we have no doubt that vehicles like this may be part of our not-so-distant future.
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