2023: Will Flying Taxis Finally Take Off?
For years now, we have been eagerly awaiting the advent of the flying taxi service, and each year we have been disappointed. This coming year though may well prove to be a crucial year in the development of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, also known as EVTOL or Flying Taxis.
The ‘traditional’ idea for these vehicles was a car that could fly and a plane that could drive. Frankly, most of the previous efforts were bad cars and worse aircraft. No longer are we looking at Jetson-styled flying cars that are less than perfect on the ground or air; now we are looking at airborne marvels styled on drone technology using multiple rotors that can carry about six passengers. The latest generation of these drones are controlled by clever software that makes them easy to fly and even capable of autonomous flight (self-flying, for the non-geeks out there).
In both Europe and Asia, there is a long queue of companies scheduled to carry out test flights in 2023, with an aim to gain airworthiness certification that will, in due course, lead to commercial production of the aircraft. There are a few that are also working hard to convince regulators to approve the carriage of paying passengers.
The European field is currently headed by the Volocity, manufactured by German outfit Volocopter, who are hoping that their two-seater will be approved prior to the Paris Olympics in 2024. In China, EHang is working with the aviation authorities there on gaining certification for their autonomous two-seater. It probably will still be a while before the likes of me and you will be able to afford even a ride in one, yet alone personal ownership, but I do now get the feeling that the industry will truly get off the ground in 2023.