Passenger carrying drones are all the rage. These (VTOL) Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicles are not true carplanes since they cannot drive through adverse weather (not yet anyways) or restricted airspace but they are pretty darn close. On this new page we keep tabs on their progress. But wait, this AOPA article suggests that the deck might be stacked against electric powered VTOL vehicles.
(Wait a minute, hold the phone, AeroMobil's Model 5.0 might just blur the line between carplanes and passenger carrying drones. This proposed vehicle, which they hope will be ready by 2025, looks a lot like an all-electric 4-seat version of their Model 4.0 carplane - but with adaptive wings and VTOL capability! Of course there's no actual vehicle yet, just sketches, so we will just have to wait and see.)
Daily Mail (10/3/17) This two-seat passenger carrying drone, which is powered by 16 electric motors, can fly up to 25 minutes at 45 mph. It has a maximum payload of 270 pounds and can be piloted manually or can be flown in autonomous mode.
A carbon-fiber quadcopter with a 2-seat cabin. Designed to fly up to 70 miles at a maximum speed of 70 mph with a 400 pound useful load and a range of 60 miles. Anticipated price is under $200,000 with an estimated 2019 delivery date. The company developing SureFly is located outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. This is not a true carplane and there are no videos of the thing actually flying but, what the heck, it looks good on paper. Here's an article with a video of the SureFly, but its not a video of the thing actually flying, just the developer talking about it.
This is sort of a rotating-wing VTOL approach for flying 2 people around. Again, not a true carplane and there is no video of it flying (although a spiffy animated simulation makes it look almost real) so who knows if they can pull it off. They are touting it as the first all-electric VTOL jet. We'll see.
A January Associated Press article describes the world's first drone that is capable of carrying a person. The Ehang 184 electric powered autonomous flight drone can carry up to 220 pounds and fly for 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 60 mph with a range of about 25 miles. Not a very long time but it's a start in what could end up being a revolution in passenger transport. The price of the vehicle when it comes to market (and if and when the FAA permits its operation) is estimated at around $250,000. US testing of the vehicle is set to occur in the Nevada desert. UPDATE: Dubai plans on starting a flying taxi service using this drone during the summer of 2017! Who needs the FAA!
Singapore also Considering "Flying Taxis"
Singapore is considering an air taxi system using passenger-carrying drones. Various vehicles are being considered including a Russian passenger-carrying drone known as the Hoversurf Scorpion.
An October 2016 article in Wired Magazine describes Uber's quest of an air taxi using Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL). "Within five years Uber expects the market to produce a fully electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing plane that can fly 100 miles at about 150 mph, carrying multiple passengers and a pilot." Whoa, that would be something. And Uber thinks this whole flying taxi thing could be cheaper than driving a car! Read here. Working with Embraer, Uber is now projecting 2024 as the date all this will happen. Wait a minute, NASA is now involved, and 2020 is now the date for testing these flying Uber taxis in Fort Worth and Los Angeles.
However, this guy thinks Uber's air taxis are just a fantasy.
A March 5, 2018 Chicago tribune articles reports that: "Boeing bolstered its portfolio of unconventional pilotless aircraft last year by buying Aurora Flight Sciences whose projects include a new flying taxi it is developing with Uber Technologies Inc. Other partners for Uber's futuristic Elevate service include Textron's Bell Helicopter and Embraer SA, a Brazilian planemaker currently in tie-up talks with Boeing" Bell Helicopter has a 50-person team working on their VTOL air taxi vehicle with safety, noise and cost being the three key factors they are attempting to address. They expect to have a workable electric or electric hybrid vehicle ready by 2025.
A 3/8/17 article describes progress on these two flying cars from Google cofounder Larry Page. It sounds like the vehicle may end up being more like a person-carrying drone than a real carplane. A subsequent video in the New York Times shows a prototype of the Kitty Hawk Flyer. As suspected it is a person-carrying drone, not a carplane.
Kitty Hawk seems to have morphed into a company name with Kitty Hawk's first real offering being an automated VTOL vehicle named Cora which appears to have been produced in new Zealand. They are claiming a 90 mph air speed with a 60 mile range. This video shows the vehicle flying.
It appears that Airbus has beat Boeing to the punch in the race to develop affordable point-to-point air transportation. Although this air taxi will not be a true carplane because it does not solve the "drive through bad weather" problem (see the discussion under the IDEAL CARPLANE tab) it would be a major step forward in air transportation. They are looking to have something to sell by 2020. "Designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, the aircraft doesn't need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft". Here is an update to this effort.
The venture capital arms of Toyota, Intel and Jet Blue have teamed up to help start Joby, another entrant in the air taxi arena. They are touting a future ultra-quiet, zero emission air taxi but are providing no videos or even drawings of their proposed vehicle. All hush-hush.
Pod-carrying drones are a variant on the passenger carrying drone concept wherein passengers ride in a small car-like vehicle (the pod) that is lifted and transported through the air by the VTOL drone. The passengers drive in the pod from point of origin to a loading location where they are "grabbed" by the drone and then, after the drone lands, the pod is released by the drone so it can drive to the point of destination. Of course this is all just animated speculation at this point - no actual vehicle exists - but it is an interesting concept.