A passenger model of an electric flying vehicle was recently unveiled to the world in Los Angeles. Is this hydrogen-powered flying vehicle the future of taxis, cargo carriers and ambulances?
Though this innovation from transportation company Alaka'i Technologies is years away from FAA approval, the passenger model of the electric flying vehicle – called Skai – displays remarkable capabilities. Featuring six rotors on the roof, the vehicle, which resembles a drone, can take off and land in a vertical position. The cabin area can accommodate up to five people.
Many similar electric flying crafts currently being tested are powered by batteries, adding to the weight of the vehicle. The Skai uses very light hydrogen fuel cells to run its rotors, extending its range to 644km and its capacity to carry 1,000kg in people or freight.
Alaka'i is planning a test flight near its Massachusetts headquarters with the machine to be flown by an on-board pilot using a pair of joysticks. However, the flying vehicle can eventually be made to fly autonomously.
It may be years before FAA frames regulations for the autonomous flight of passenger vehicles. In the meantime, there is potential for Skai aircraft to be used in emergency situations to ferry food and water after disasters, evacuate people and even be deployed as a mobile cell tower to provide communication services.