Will we soon see taxis in the sky?
Lately, the topic of flying taxis is moving a lot, and especially in the area of the city of Los Angeles, since there are several companies there developing prototypes and carrying out test flights.
The Department of Transport of this city promotes a series of reflections that have reached the World Economic Forum, which they call Principles of the Urban Sky , and which are 7 topics that analyze different possibilities of how the skies of the cities could be used. cities of the future.
Attached is a photo of the 7 topics it deals with.
A lot of money is being invested in companies that develop these types of vehicles, and by way of example Boeing has invested $450 million in a company called Wisk. It is clear that they are interested in being part of this possible aeronautical business of the future.
The companies that are in this business such as Wisk, Joby Aviation, and others promise them very cheerfully, hoping to start their businesses in the next two to four years, but the situation is not at all clear. Some even publicly anticipate that they hope to start their activity in 2024, but wishes are one thing and reality is another.
The competition to be the first to fly and transport passengers is enormous, since the market of some large cities is very well paid for this type of service.
For a device to fly, the FAA certification must approve its design, and that includes its manufacturing processes, its security system and the operation of the device. On large passenger planes it takes quite a few years, and on these smaller ones I guess it will take a few years as well. Let’s keep in mind that people’s lives must be guaranteed.
And since getting an aeronautical certification takes a few years, I am very clear that those who say they are going to fly in 2024 are excessively optimistic, and what they intend with their statements is to continue obtaining investments for their project.
There are more than 200 companies around the world making this type of device, but not all of them have the same levels of investment. The 10 largest (led by Joby, who is the largest and has been working in this field for more than 10 years) have obtained nearly 6 billion dollars of investment, and the rest much less.
Those who promote this business present estimated data on the future costs of these services, indicating that they will be in the order of $50, with a duration of 7 to 10 minutes to travel about 25 miles. That seems very competitive compared to current taxis, but it remains to be seen how the reality will be.
One of the advantages of these devices is that they can easily be converted into autonomous vehicles, and the cost of the driver is avoided, lowering costs in the future. But you also have to keep in mind that certifying a device that flies autonomously is very, very difficult. Because it is almost impossible to “certify” the proper functioning of all the algorithms of the program. Let’s remember that we are talking about the lives of people who fly.
Those who are in the business do nothing more than advertise its benefits, and the great benefits that we are going to have, without implicitly recognizing that they will be the most benefited. But not everyone think the same.
There are people who think that the skies of the cities belong to everyone, and everyone has the right to enjoy a blue sky, without noise or devices above their heads.
But I am clear that there are advances that are unstoppable, and this is one of them. I don’t know if it will be in the year 2024 or in the year 2028, but sooner rather than later we will have air taxi services in the big cities.
And I hope that we citizens can maintain a decent quality of life.