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Flying Cathodes and Anodes Everywhere

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As I started researching this paper I quickly determined that there is a surprising range of flying EVs that transport humans (as opposed to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)) that are starting to enter various markets, and that is what this paper is about.

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John Benson's picture

Thank John for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 6, 2019 6:18 pm GMT

These are some really neat designs, most of which I hadn't seen-- thanks for doing the research and sharing with the community.

It seems like much of the applications being tauted here are (obviously) short-range, light load transport. Do you see these applications taking off, or are these a bit of a solution in search of a problem (at least for now)?

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Aug 7, 2019 3:41 pm GMT

Thanks for the comment, Matt.

The trainers are a no-brainer, and if you notice the two designs are almost identical in appearance. These might also evolve into short-range civil aircraft, but this is a pretty small market.

The huge potential market is air taxis. The one subject I thought about adding is potential logistics. Although the challenges of autonomy are, in general easier for these vs. autonomous cars, there is one major issue - ground-logistics. Either a fast-charger or a battery-swap facility will be required in the takeoff/landing areas. Also the safety issue in dealing with ground clutter or other air traffic during takeoffs and landings.

Here is what I see in the short term - air taxis role will typically be between major metropolitan centers and outlying area in the suburbs. The takeoff/landing areas will be dedicated to this function (or maybe a designated area in similar facilities like a small airport), and will be certified. In many cases the passengers will connect to ground transportation at the air taxi takeoff/landing areas to get to their final destination.

For instance, a passenger in Downtown San Francisco (or SFO) might board an air taxi at a designated port on top of a large building, fly to another air taxi port at the Livermore airport, and board an Uber, ground-taxi or public ground transportation to get to The Tesla Warehouse (about 5 miles away from the airport). Total trip time will be well under an hour, vs. at least two hours using current ground-only options.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 7, 2019 5:49 pm GMT

In that regard, it certainly sounds like a tool for the wealthier. Do you have any hope that these applications would somehow find themselves scaled and priced in a manner that more people would be able to take advantage?

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Aug 9, 2019 5:12 pm GMT

Initially, yes, a toy for the rich and powerful. I expect the market will start entering the U.S. in about three years. Two main segments:

Commercial service as described above.

Major corporations with many facilities in a given metro area will probably each have a few to shuttle people around to meetings.

In the second case Tesla, Oracle, Intel, etc. would be examples in the SF Bay Area (especially as bad as our traffic is).

Over time the price will moderate, and mid-management types with a time crunch will be allowed to use them. As volumes increase, the price will come down. Keep in mind, as the capital cost of each air-taxi comes down, and the designs mature, the recurring cost will be extremely low.

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