The firm hopes to get its autonomously piloted electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles into the mainstream by 2035.
It is estimated that, by 2050, urban populations may more than double, with seven out 10 of the world’s inhabitants living in cities. New forms of mobility will be needed to facilitate smooth and pollution-free travel therein.
With cities around the world now grappling with ground traffic congestion and associated pollution, one type of aircraft is expected to be the disruptive solution: electric planes that can take off and land vertically.
One Japan-based manufacturer of such electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, SkyDrive Inc., is aiming to create a future where everyone has access to eVTOL as their daily transportation. Currently, its “SKYDRIVE” eVTOL aircraft is designed to be flown with one pilot and two passengers on board for intra-city flights. To ensure extra flight safety over populated areas, special flight control solutions are needed.
Such ”fly-by-wire” flight control solutions calculate and adjust the position of the aircraft’s control surfaces and manage engine thrust, and are a critical element of eVTOL flight safety, especially when it becomes a ubiquitous mode of transport.
As such, SkyDrive recently announced at the Paris Air Show 2023 that it had selected Thales to provide flight control system for its production eVTOL — three-seat zero emission versions of the current “SkyDrive”.
According to the firm’s Chief Development Officer, Arnaud Coville: “While mobility is seeking new sustainable solutions, we are proud to support SkyDrive in opening the skies to urban transportation, thanks to our new-generation flight controls solution.”
The advanced flight control system is touted to offer the particular level of lightness, compactness, and autonomy-readiness needed by eVTOL aircraft, also called Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) or Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles. Around 40,000 such — autonomously piloted and fully electrical — are predicted to be in use by 2035.