New concept utilizes dedicated propulsion systems for vertical lift
Today as part of Uber's second annual Elevate Summit, aircraft designer and Uber Elevate partner, Pipistrel, revealed its newest eVTOL concept and design. The new aircraft utilizes dedicated propulsion systems for both cruising and vertical lift and embraces an aircraft family approach of eVTOL able to carry from 2 to 6 passengers.
As part of its broader Elevate aviation initiative, Uber plans to operate a network of small, electric, aircraft in numerous cities worldwide to enable four-person ridesharing flights in densely populated urban markets. These electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) differ from helicopters in that they are orders of magnitude quieter, safer, more affordable, and more environmentally-friendly.
The new Pipistrel eVTOL concept, developed as a partner of Uber Elevate, will be able to go longer distances at higher speeds than previous models. Utilizing a new integrated vertical lift system, the vehicle is designed for scalability, and will lower operating costs while offering an upgraded rider experience.
Pipistrel has been a leader in aircraft design and production. In 2011, they won the NASA Green Flight Challenge, which was the largest aviation prize in history at $1.5 million. Their electric G4 concept was able to fly up to four passengers 100 miles at an average speed of 108 mph. Located in Slovenia, Pipistrel is producing 13 different models of two seat aircraft, among which the Alpha Electro and the Taurus Electro feature an all-electric propulsion.
They've also recently developed the Panthera aircraft, a high performance four-seat general aviation aircraft with modular propulsion, fully electric, hybrid and fuel powered.
Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel's founder and General Manager said: "Pipistrel is not trying to reinvent the helicopter by giving the vehicle many rotors, but is rather embracing dedicated propulsion solutions for cruise and vertical lift with built-in scaling capability for a family of vehicles with two to six seats. Pairing an innovative integrated vertical lift system, which is quiet and efficient, with highly aerodynamic wings results in a new class of eVTOL that maximizes high-speed cruise performance and dramatically lowers cost of operation for a clear advantage to Uber Elevate passengers."
Mark Moore, Uber's Director of Engineering, Elevate Vehicle Systems said: "Pipistrel has been one of the pioneers in electric aircraft development, initiating the age of electric flight. As an Uber Elevate partner, their eVTOL concept is pushing towards the next generation of Distributed Electric Propulsion. We're thrilled to continue our work with Pipistrel, and look forward to bringing this concept to the Elevate network."
At the conference Pipistrel also unveiled strategic partnership with Elan, a Slovenian-based global developer, producer and supplier of sporting equipment, high-technology advanced composite components and wind-power technology.
Tine Tomazic, Pipistrel Director of R&D, stated: "Today we're announcing a strategic partnership with company Elan, a Slovenian company, they're 1 hour's drive from us and they have mastered the production of composite materials and structures in the 50+ years of existence, at massive scales. Elan is producing everything from sports equipment to tens of thousands of windmill power plant components yearly. And together we are developing the design of a eVTOL structure that is scalable. Building-in automation, building-in digital manufacturing high speed RTM composite construction and other things. This is how we believe we stand a chance of going from where we are today with the concept design into the future."
Jeffrey Tirman, Elan CEO stated: "Elan is thrilled to be partnering with Pipistrel to bring more than 50 years' experience working with advanced composites to the highly demanding and technical application requirements of the Uber eVTOL project. Elan's ability to develop ultra-lightweight and super-strong composite materials for the eVTOL vehicle will help contribute to longer flight times and heavier payloads, thereby enhancing the overall experience for all involved."
Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel's founder and General Manager stated:"Pipistrel is not only a designer but also a certified aircraft manufacturer. That is why our ambitions regarding the cooperation with Uber are not only in developing the design for the air vehicle, but also in large-scale production of it.In doing so, the strategic partnering with Elan, who has been one of the pioneers of composite technology use in aviation and has experience with all of the mass production technologies of composites known so far, will enable fast implementation of large-scale production of composite components for the air vehicle."