The newest edition to the eclectic and ever growing list of companies embroiled in developing a flying vehicle is Rolls-Royce. The British car manufacturer recently revealed that it has designed a propulsion system that allows ‘electric vertical take-off and landing’ (EVTOL) as part of a project to develop a flying taxi.
Rolls-Royce claims that the propulsion system can be adapted into a personal air vehicle that will be able to travel up to 250mph for a distance of 500miles, while carrying up to five people. They hope that the vertical take-off capabilities will make it more practical for use as a personal aircraft for use within towns and cities.
The system is hybrid technology that would not need recharging. This is because the concept uses a gas turbine to generating approximately 500kw of electricity to power six electric propulsion systems. It is also designed to have a low noise output as four of the rotators can fold into the wings during flight, leaving only the two at the rear to provide thrust, thus reducing noise in the vehicle. The vertical take-off and landing capabilities are facilitated by the wings being able to rotate 90° once altitude has been reached.
Rob Watson, Head of Rolls-Royce’s Electrical Team, commented: “Electrification is an exciting and inescapable trend across industrial technology markets and while the move to more electric propulsion will be gradual for us, it will ultimately be a revolution.”
Rolls-Royce stated: "We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created.”
It is also possible that the technology being developed by Roll-Royce may be able to benefit from the £343m the government has promised to invest in the research and development of new aviation technology and environmentally friendly technologies, such as electric vehicles.
However, Rolls-Royce are not the only company currently trying to develop a vehicle suitable for personal use, with Airbus working on their own EVTOL concept and other companies such as Uber, Google and Kitty Hawke also attempting to develop a form of flying car.
Watson added confidently: “From developing the first turbo-prop and jet engines, to creating the world’s most efficient large civil aero-engine and vertical take-off and landing solutions, we have a very strong pedigree. As the third generation of aviation begins to dawn, it’s time to be pioneers yet again.”