Wisk Aero has unveiled its 6th generation semi-autonomous air taxi, calling it the “first-ever candidate for FAA type certification of an autonomous eVTOL.” The design looks like a major updated version of the “Cora” air taxi that we first saw flying and hovering in New Zealand in 2018. However, the company did not reveal a flight or detailed information on certification progress.
According to Wisk, the four-seat aircraft can fly between 110 and 120 knots (138 MPH) at an altitude of 2,500 to 4,000 feet above the ground. It is a VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft with a 12-propeller design, with tiltable propulsion units at the front and fixed units at the rear for lift. According to the press release, it offers a range of up to 90 miles and has improved control and efficient energy management over previous versions.
The promotional video (above) shows passengers buckle up with shoulder harness style seat belts and go through a safety demonstration using touch screens. Wisk says there are “fewer moving parts, no hydraulics, no oil and no fuel,” promising a safer flying experience. It also notes that it is “designed to exceed today’s stringent aviation safety standards with a one in a billion chance of an accident”.
The company emphasized autonomous technology, saying it is “key” to air mobility. To that end, they’re aiming for improved sensors to detect and avoid obstacles, along with “multi-vehicle monitors that can monitor every flight of people” and take over control if necessary.
Wick said the new vehicle is a candidate for FAA certification, which would allow it to fly passengers in the United States. However, getting that coveted piece of paper is an arduous task, even for established aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, which use standard aircraft designs — let alone a new company with a brand new type of aircraft that has never flown passengers before.
The aerospace company Kittyhawk, founded by Google co-founder Larry Page, recently announced its closure, a strong indication of the challenges in the sector. Wick essentially emerged from this company after Kittyhawk partnered with Boeing for the 5th generation Cora aircraft.
Wick isn’t the only company determined to pull this air taxi thing off. Joby received FAA approval for its air taxi services earlier this year, allowing it to operate commercially. With that, however, it can only begin testing its services — it still needs FAA certification for its prototype aircraft before it can actually carry people.
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https://www.engadget.com/wisk-autonomous-flying-taxi-candidate-faa-certification-122548849.html?src=rss Wisk’s latest flying taxi has four seats and can fly itself