Airspace Experience Technologies, LLC (AirSpaceX) has unveiled a sub-scale model of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, MOBi ONE at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
The company hopes for the full-scale version of the aircraft will be the future of taxi services. MOBi ONE is an autonomous tilt-wing electric aircraft capable of carrying both passengers and cargo at speeds of up to 400 km/h (250 mph).
MOBi ONE has been designed as a clean and quiet alternative to road transport. The aircraft was designed and built by AirSpaceX parent company Detroit Aircraft Corporation (DAC) who believes the aircraft will be affordable to produce due to its "lean automotive design and mass production techniques".
Traffic jams waste time and money
AirSpaceX claims that US$300 billion dollars a year is wasted in fuel and productivity due to road traffic jams and other delays in the United States alone. They estimate that urban commuters spend 42 hours stuck in traffic each year, an exercise that pumps 17 billion kg (38 billion pounds) of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
MOBi ONE is quieter than a helicopter thanks to its four wing-mounted electric motors and can carry two to four passengers or payloads of over 200 kg (440 lb) at a cruising speed of 241 km/h (150 mph) over a range of 104 km (65 mi).
AirSpaceX hopes to hit the point to point commute market with MOBi ONE . “MOBi-ONE will offer clean, quiet, and connected on-demand air mobility to the mass traveling public at an affordable price,” says Jon Rimanelli, founder, and CEO of Detroit Aircraft and AirSpaceX. “Our vision is to mass produce aircraft leveraging lean automotive design and mass production techniques so our vehicles are affordable to the mass traveling public.”
AirSpaceX looks to commuter market
“Our goal is to deploy 2,500 aircraft at the nation’s 50 largest cities by 2026, targeting existing infrastructure at first.”
The aircraft is equipped with broadband connectivity for high-speed internet access on the go and has V2X collision avoidance technology and safety messaging. Aside from functioning as a commuter taxi, MOBi ONE also has applications as a medical and casualty evacuation vehicle as well as uses in tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR). The AirSpaceX understand their idea is capital heavy but have a clear vision for getting their aircraft into cities. “Our goal is to deploy 2,500 aircraft at the nation’s 50 largest cities by 2026, targeting existing infrastructure at first,” says JP Yorro, Chief Commercial Officer at AirSpaceX.
MOBi ONE can offer a clean city solution
If AirSpaceX can fulfill their vision, the number of commuting cars on the road will be reduced. This has the potential to dramatically improve air quality in cities many of which are choked with car derived air pollution. In India, more than a million people die from air pollution-related diseases alone. Autonomous passenger carrying aircraft could be a way to reduce this pollution. Granted the scale that AirSpaceX is aiming for won’t dramatically change cities overnight, but the future might be looking brighter and healthier if this technology is adopted more widely.