By Chris Stonor
India is catching up with the nascent eVTOL industry and “the fourth industrial revolution”, as two Chennai-based startups involved in the flying taxi market, aim to make huge strides in this sector, reports lifestyle.livemint.com.
Vinata Aeromobility, established earlier this year, recently announced that it is to unveil what it claims is “Asia’s first hybrid flying car” at the Helitech Expo, slated to take place in London in October.
Yogesh Ramanathan, founder, CEO and lead designer at Vinata, commented, “We’ve been working on this concept since 2017-18. We were all set to launch the startup last year, but the pandemic delayed our plans.”
He continued, “Our proof-of-concept is ready and we’ll be unveiling a scaled-down model of the aircraft in October, along with more details about its design and specifications. The most interesting part about this flying car is that it will run on hybrid power, both electrical and sustainable biofuel.” Vinata’s two-seater, hybrid, based on eVTOL technology, will have a range of 100 km and a cruise speed of around 120 km per hour.
Ramanathan says while personal air mobility is their long-term goal, more immediate business potential including air cargo will come first.
“The same aircraft platform will support low-altitude air cargo flights, which will have a weight capacity of up to 250kg,” explained Ramanthan. “Therefore, we see more use cases in emergency medical services, fire services and the defense sector. Personal mobility and flying taxis come in the third stage.”
The other startup, ePlane, originally beginning life at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and set up in February 2019, is aiming to create “an affordable flying taxi that not only promises quiet and pollution-free travel but also significantly less travel time.”
Satya Chakravarthy, the ePlane founder, said, “We actually have a footprint of 4×4 metres, which is the most compact eVTOL vehicle in the world. This essentially means we are targeting to take off and land from rooftops of apartment complexes, high-rise buildings, the front yards of urban homes and offices in the middle of cities.” Adding, “This makes it more accessible at all places.”
The two-seater aircraft is currently in a detailed design phase which should be completed by the end of next month which then leads to the construction of the first prototype. The e200 will have a maximum cruise speed of 160 km per hour and is capable of multiple flights on a single charge, with a range of around 200 km.
Chakravarthy explained, “Each trip will only take 5-10 minutes. We are also working with some fast charging companies to improve the charging time (of the vehicle) in between.”
The ePlane company’s business model also focuses on multiple use cases, including an urban aerial mobility service that would replace road taxis for a similar price and using the aircraft for cargo, industrial and military applications.
Once additional infrastructural issues, like the availability of fast-charging points and autonomous air-traffic control systems, are ironed out in the years to come, Chakravarthy believes we could see a proper ecosystem of such aircraft in cities. “All we need in the near future to get these projects in the sky are clean landing spaces. That kind of infrastructure is already available for us to use.”
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(News Source: https://lifestyle.livemint.com)