How close is urban air mobility to becoming a reality?

 

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eVTOL vehicle

So far, Uber is sticking publicly to its stated goal of beginning limited aerial ridesharing service in its pilot cities by 2023. And at least one of its vehicle partners, Joby Aviation, remains committed to certifying and operating its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxi by 2023.

The U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program, which is intended to help accelerate the certification of commercial eVTOL vehicles by providing access to testing resources and a government early-adopter market, is likewise targeting the fielding of a “small handful” of vehicles in 2023.

Uber planned to conduct flight tests on an experimental vehicle over a U.S. city later in 2020 but has not provided an update on whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these plans. These flights, of a piloted vehicle without passengers, are intended to demonstrate the low noise of eVTOL vehicles, which is critical to achieving the public acceptance needed to begin commercial service.

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Two-wheeler rental startups expect to ride high as public transport comes to a halt

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Self-drive scooter businesses like Bounce, Vogo, and Yulu expect to see an uptick in adoption, with public transportation utilization capped at less than 50% due to social distancing norms.

Self-drive scooter businesses like Bounce, Vogo, and Yulu expect to see an uptick in adoption, with public transportation utilization capped at less than 50% due to social distancing norms and disposable incomes taking a hit owing to salary cuts and lower earnings, these firms tell ET.

The nationwide lockdown has forced state governments to significantly cut public transportation services, restricting commute options for healthcare workers, civic authorities, and delivery executives.

Shared two-wheelers are more efficient and provide low-cost rider-friendly alternative to public transport. “With the movement of people being staggered out, self-drive shared scooters can help drive down the prices through economies of scale and pass on the benefits to the end consumer, in this case—commuters,” said Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO of Bounce.

These businesses, however, say that state governments and businesses need to jointly build newer ways of shared and public transport to cater to safer mobility solutions. “We need to ensure adequate preparedness of cities to cater to these new requirements in the most efficient manner possible,” Anand Ayyadurai, CEO at Vogo, said.

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Einride is hiring its first autonomous truck operators

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Einride is hiring autonomous pod operators in both the U.S. and Sweden with the new jobs set to begin later this year.

Einride, a Swedish technology company that designs, develops and sells driverless electrified trucks and logistical solutions, has announced it will be hiring the first autonomous and remote truck operator in the freight mobility space.

The company said new operators will be hired in Sweden in March and in the U.S. in the third quarter.

Einride said the first drivers are slated to hit the street in Sweden for commercial purposes later this year, with the first American drivers getting to work in the fourth quarter.

In the coming years, as SAE Level 4 self-driving technology is implemented on scale, trucking will change fundamentally, Einride noted. Looking towards the future, the company said it has made the decision to hire a former truck driver as its first dedicated autonomous truck operator, opening a new category of jobs.

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Hydrogen-powered drone developed in Hungary

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Hydrogen-powered drone in Hungary.

What is being touted as the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft that could be made suitable for carrying passengers has been unveiled at Jakabszallas airport in central Hungary. The Hungarian-American development was presented in the attendance of Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, who told a news conference that the government regards the aerospace industry as a key sector.

Whereas automotive is the Hungarian economy’s flagship industry, investments in recent years are putting aerospace in a stronger position, he added. He noted that the government has the hydrogen economy as a separate chapter in its recently unveiled energy and climate strategy, alongside AI, industry 4.0 and 5G.

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Inside the high-stakes race to build the world’s first flying taxi

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The Lilium prototype in a hangar in Wessling, Germany.Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

Lilium, a German start-up, illustrates the potential and the risks of creating a new generation of electric aircraft for urban transportation.

MUNICH — Inside an airplane hangar about 20 miles from central Munich, Daniel Wiegand lifted the door of a prototype that he said would become one of the world’s first flying taxis. He’s coy about how much it cost to build — “several million,” he says — but promises that within five years a fleet of them could provide a 10-minute trip from Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport for $70.

A lot is riding on his plane. Mr. Wiegand, 34, is the chief executive and a founder of Lilium, one of the most promising and secretive start-ups in the global race to build an all-electric aircraft that will — regulators and public opinion willing — move passengers above cities.

“This is the perfect means of transportation, something that can take off and land everywhere,” Mr. Wiegand (pronounced VEE-gand) said. “It’s very fast, very efficient and low noise.”

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The death of cars was greatly exaggerated

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The founders of Uber and Lyft, among others, declared that people would no longer need to own cars. Instead, car ownership is rising.

Throw your driver’s license out the window. Better yet, don’t get one at all.

For nearly a decade, that’s been the message from buzzy transportation companies. In 2011, car-sharing company Zipcar touted a study claiming millennials believe car ownership is difficult. The same year, Zimride, founded by the guys who would later cofound Lyft, was touted as a startup challenging the “old model of individual ownership.” Former Uber head Travis Kalanick boasted that his driver’s license had expired and that his 1999 BMW M3 convertible—his only car—had a broken alternator.

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We pit the Uber Copter vs. public transit in a race to JFK — here’s who won

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One is a bumpy, deafening and slightly nauseating way to get to John F. Kennedy Airport — the other is public transportation.

The Post put Uber’s new helicopter shuttle to JFK to the test, racing the car-sharing company and its chopper from Midtown to the hub against old-fashioned New York City Transit — which proved three minutes swifter at a sliver of the price.

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Chinese passenger drone maker EHang is said to file for U.S. IPO

 

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An EHang Inc. E-184 drone.

 Technology startup is working on producing passenger drones.

EHang may raise as much as $200 million in public offering.

EHang, one of China’s largest drone makers, has made a confidential application for an initial public offering with Nasdaq Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

EHang plans to float 10% to 15% of its shares, with the company’s valuation not yet set due to volatile market conditions, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. EHang may raise as much as $200 million in the IPO, one of the people said.

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New INRIX Research ranks the top U.S. cities where micromobility has the most potential

 

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KIRKLAND, Wash., Sept. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Micromobility (defined as shared bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters) has the potential to deliver substantial benefits to consumers and businesses around the world, including efficient and cost-effective travel, reduced traffic congestion, decreased emissions and a boost to the local economy.

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Meet Olli 2.0, a 3D-printed autonomous shuttle

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From afar, Olli resembles many of the “future is now!” electric autonomous shuttles that have popped up in recent years.

The tall rectangular pod, with its wide-set headlights and expansive windows nestled between a rounded frame, gives the shuttle a friendly countenance that screams, ever so gently, “come along, take a ride.”

But Olli is different in almost every way, from how it’s produced to its origin story. And now, its maker, Local Motors, has given Olli an upgrade in hopes of accelerating the adoption of its autonomous shuttles.

Meet Olli 2.0, a 3D-printed connected electric autonomous shuttle that Rogers says will hasten its ubiquity.

“The future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed,” Local Motors co-founder and CEO John B. Rogers Jr. said in a recent interview. “That’s something I say a lot. Because people often ask me, ‘Hey, when will I see this vehicle? 2023? What do you think?’ My response: It’s here now, it’s just not everywhere.”

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Lyft’s main taxi business is already profitable in some areas, but self-driving cars and bike-sharing are eating into that revenue

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A man rides a Lyft scooter near the White House in Washington DC Reuters

JPMorgan says Lyft’s core ride-hailing business is already profitable in certain markets.

It’s other bets on things like bikes, scooters, and self-driving cars that are dragging down the company’s balance sheet.

Other Wall Street analysts have also raised their estimates and targets for Lyft following second-quarter earnings that topped expectations.

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The dream of flying taxis may not be too far off

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Then again, Henry Ford said the same thing in 1940.

“Mark my words. A combination of airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile. But it will come,” Henry Ford quipped in 1940. Our dreams of cars capable of taking flight at the whim of their driver have been around nearly as long as we’ve had cars themselves, or at least as long as we’ve endured heavy commute traffic. Yet the prospect of actual, commercially available flying automobiles has always seemed to remain just out of reach, only a few years from viability. But even as drones become commonplace, are we really any closer to an age of aeronautical automobiles than we were in Ford’s day?

What even is a flying car? Designs have run the gamut from the AVE Mizar (basically a Ford Pinto with wings, to VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) designs like the Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep. Even today, you’ve got roadable aircraft like the Terrafugia Transition, though these are quickly being pushed into the periphery in favor of VTOLs like the Bell Nexus being developed for Uber Elevate. That is, modern designs generally focus on serving as personal aircraft, rather than automobiles that can also fly.

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