British luxury automobile maker, Rolls-Royce has revealed plans to develop a hybrid electric vehicle, called “flying taxi”, which takes off and lands vertically and could be airborne within five years.
Rolls-Royce unveiled EVTOL (Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) concept that could carry four to five passengers to virtually any large-enough landing spot thanks to wings that can rotate 90 degrees.
The London-listed aerospace giant, showed off the plans at the Farnborough Airshow for the first time, as other players also rush into the market segment. Rolls said it hoped to manufacture a prototype version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle within the next 18 months, and could potentially take to the skies in the early 2020s.
The Rolls-Royce EVTOL plane will seat four or five people, with a flying range of 500 miles and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.
According to Rob Watson, head of Rolls-Royce’s electrical team, “in this market, you will see something like this flying within three to five years, and we will demonstrate the system in two years…. At the end of next year, we will be flight ready,” he told AFP.
The hybrid vehicle, which cost single-digit millions of pounds to develop, will use a traditional gas turbine engine with an electrical system wrapped around it. Rolls-Royce is also researching an all-electric product but that is not as advanced as the EVTOL offering.
“There is an emerging market for all-electric planes but we believe that you need a level of requirement that an all-electric system cannot really provide today,” Watson told AFP.
The design is focused on “personal air mobility” for congested cities and could be used for both flying taxis as well as private transportation for the well-off.
The company maintained that the EVTOL concept is based on technology that either already exists or is in mid-development, giving it a chance to fly sometime in the early 2020s.