Electric VTOL Flying Cars Have a Role With Clean and Efficient Transportation

Electric flying cars can be environmentally cleaner than regular cars in congested cities or places with geographical constraints and as part of a ride-share taxi service. This is based on a study by Ford and the University of Michigan.

VTOLs were competitive for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in certain scenarios.

The researchers found that for trips of 100 kilometers (62 miles), a fully loaded VTOL carrying a pilot and three passengers had lower greenhouse gas emissions than ground-based cars with an average vehicle occupancy of 1.54. Emissions tied to the VTOL were 52 percent lower than gasoline vehicles and 6 percent lower than battery-electric vehicles.

The global transportation sector faces the challenges increased traffic, traffic jams, safety and mitigating climate change.

Electric vehicles and automated driving may contribute to some of those goals but are limited by congestion on existing roadways. VTOLs could potentially overcome some of those limitations by enabling piloted taxi services or other urban and regional aerial travel services.

Airbus, Boeing, Joby Aviation and Lilium and many others are working on flying car VTOL prototypes. One critical efficiency enabler for these aircraft is distributed electric propulsion which involves the use of many small, electrically driven propulsors.

VTOLs are most energy efficient on long trips, when the cruise phase dominates the total flight miles. Anything less than 35 kilometers (22 miles)—single-occupant internal-combustion-engine vehicles use less energy and produced fewer greenhouse gas emissions than single-occupant VTOLs.

Nature Communications – Role of flying cars in sustainable mobility

SOURCES- University of Michigan, Nature Communications
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

10 thoughts on “Electric VTOL Flying Cars Have a Role With Clean and Efficient Transportation”

  1. This is like the elites spinning how limousines also have a role with ‘clean and efficient transportation’.

  2. ‘..using many relatively slow rotors..’
    The Lilium has 36 rotors – 12 on each wing, plus 6 on each side at the front – with a diameter I’d estimate at 20 to 30 cm . That gives a total rotor disc area of a bit over 2.5 square metres. The rotor disc area of a Robinson R22 is 46.2 square metres. Empty and maximum take off weights for the Robbie are listed as 379/621 kg, and for the Lilium as 440/640 kg. Goat guy may differ, but I make that as the Lilium rotors, in climb and hover, having to push through nearly twenty times as much air, per unit disc area, as the helicopter’s.

  3. A fully loaded pilotless electric vtol with 4 passenger and wing surfaces for cruise flight should do much better. Pilots will not be in the equation when these things take hold. There is a huge financial incentive to get rid of pilot ASAP.

  4. A one passenger flying vehicle is always fully occupied, unless it is making a pickup. Electric flying vehicles will be more reliable than piston engine, and likely turbine engine vehicles. The relative ease of using many relatively slow rotors allows relatively energy efficient propulsion in terms of newtons per kW of work.

  5. Small piloted flying vehicles are not likely to be efficient.
    The weight and cost penalty for a human pilot kills profitability.
    Autonomous is what’s it will have to be, especially in congested situations and for safety.

  6. Misleading: The study doesn’t measure what will happen when landing spots are as hard to find as parking spots. That is, when VTOLs really “take off” in usage, which is basically the point. Doesn’t factor in “hover time” either, equivalent to “circling the block.” Also assumes much better battery life than currently available for those longer trips, when what’s really available is downright dangerously low in capacity. Weather, training and the extra possibility of crashes in 3D mixed use air and ground space as opposed to 2D space (roads) isn’t factored in either.

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