CAFE Symposium Explores Future Of Flight
Our planet’s transportation systems are on the cusp of a radical change to “on-demand mobility,” according to several of the presenters at last week’s CAFE symposium in California. “The technology push and the market pull are converging,” said Bruce Holmes and Roger Parker, of AirMarkets Corp. “A large and growing market for ODM exists and is convergent with technologies for sustainability, safety, affordability and accessibility.” Florian Reuter, managing director of e-volo, said his company’s recent successful flight of its Volocopter design shows it’s possible to achieve “revolutionary simplicity in piloting, unprecedented safety and absence of emissions.” The message: Increasingly safe, autonomous aircraft driven by quiet, emissions-free propulsion systems will create new markets for urban, personal transportation.
Reuter added that e-volo plans to certify the Volocopter by the end of next year, distribute it to selected flight schools early in 2018 and start operational use by customers by the third quarter of 2018. Emerging markets for the technology could include an on-demand commuter network in Silicon Valley, or urban air travel for individuals, as soon as 2020, if existing regulations can be modified. NASA researcher Mark Moore also explored the potential for a VTOL air-taxi system in Silicon Valley. Launchpads could be sited at freeway cloverleafs, he said, using small aircraft that are quiet, efficient, highly redundant and reliable. “The convergence of distributed electric propulsion and autonomy is why this is possible in the next 10 years,” Moore said. AVweb will follow up with more details from CAFE, and an interview with Moore, later this week.