No, don’t make the mistake of thinking passenger drones to be a bigger version of those toys that kids fly at home. It’s much more than that and we will tell you why it has everything in it to become ‘the next big thing’ to hit the aerospace industry in the coming days.
Drones have been extremely popular in recent years, but their use was restricted initially to recreation activities by hobbyists. But, slowly, the use of drones was extended to research activities and military operations as well. Commercial companies also started to explore the possibilities of their use in transporting merchandise. Post 2011, many commercial builders and developers have conducted experiments using short-duration manned drones to support the transportation of materials. Then came the concept of passenger drones. Also called the Drone Taxi, Pilotless Helicopter or a Flying Taxi-a passenger drone is a kind of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that can carry passengers. A commercial passenger drone was exhibited for the first time by Chinese entrepreneurs in the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2016. Named Ehang 184, this passenger taxi was capable of carrying a human and it opened up the door of enormous possibilities for the future.
Present Pioneers in commercial passenger drones
Bell Nexus Air Taxi
This shiny passenger drone was showcased in the recently concluded CES 2019. This is a luxury project by Bell, one of the largest manufacturers of helicopters.
This machine is almost ready to hit the market and has been undergoing testing in Dubai for quite some time now. It is expected to roll out flying taxi service in Dubai at any time.
Boeing, a renowned name in the aerospace industry, has acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, who has done a considerable bit of research and testing in passenger drones. We heard they are becoming ready to go commercial this year itself.
Airbus Vahana is testing single and two passenger drones, with the unmatched tools, materials and experience provided by the Airbus team. Inside information coming from Airbus suggests that their air-taxi service will carry passengers at the same price as that of a ground taxi in the USA.
Volocopter, the German company has already obtained the license to fly a passenger drone. Its tail-less mini helicopter E-Volo or Intel Volocopter did its test flight in September 2017 itself. It has impressive safety feature of multiple propellers instead of the customary single propeller.
PARAGON VTOL AEROSPACE (https://paragonvtol.com)
They are reshaping the infrastructure for 45 million people that live in the Caribbean Islands using their sophisticated drones and software technologies. Their technology is designed to work under extreme conditions and lift heavy materials using electric power. Their T21 Raptor is designed for universal applications based on industry requirements. They have successfully operated their third small scale prototype and developing a full scale to clear a path for commercialization.