An affordable air vehicle that takes off and lands vertically. We’re starting with pilots that are used to being in the air, but eventually Atlas can be piloted by anyone. We want to cut your commute time by a factor of 10 or more.
Flying is highly versatile in nature. With no requirements for pre-defined infrastructure such as highways, train tracks or tunnels limiting navigational possibilities flying grants infinite freedom on how we can travel.
Why has this not been done before?
In the 1960s, there were multiple experimental VTOL projects carried out by the military, which were impractical due to cost and technology availability. Past the Cold War, R&D investment in the field has been limited due to the short sight of startups looking to ship products within 6 months, and the commercial aerospace industry’s relentless focus on milking the airliner cash cow. The good news is that the computers, batteries, and motors required for this vehicle were developed for other applications and are now available today.
How are you reducing the cost of air transportation?
Making air transportation affordable, requires both affordable vehicles and low operational costs.
The first is achieved by:
Reducing development timelines and certification costs. A commercial airliner takes over 5 years and $500m+ to certify. In contrast, a small aircraft can be certified in under a year, leading to shorter development timelines, which allow us to bring cutting edge performance to market faster.
Reduced complexity: which goes hand in hand with aircraft price. Replacing internal combustion engines and jets with electric powertrains will in itself reduce part count by 2 orders of magnitude.
Last: economies of scale. There is currently no flying vehicle produced at automotive volumes, which keeps the prices high and limits the manufacturing techniques. Small, electric VTOL aircrafts would be the first aircraft to be produced at this rate.
The latter is easier to achieve. By simply replacing the cost of carbon fuels with electricity, the cost per kilometer of flight is reduced to a fraction. This also reduces maintenance costs, due to a much simpler drivetrain with fewer parts to fail/maintain.
Another high cost of operating an aircraft today comes from requiring a certified pilot. This will not be needed anymore. Autonomy is key to minimize cost, and also because there will not be enough certified pilots to match the demand for flying cars.
An electric drivetrain is the only practical way of engineering a distributed propulsion system, which enables new aircraft configurations. It is the difference between a watermelon-sized electric motor powering a propeller in-situ versus an automotive internal combustion engine with shafts and couplers transferring power, taking more airframe space.
Second, we believe sustainable energy should be a precondition for any new technologies developed in this day and age. An electric energy storage system is currently more costly upfront but pays for itself due to electricity being cheaper than fuel. Further, thanks to the work done by the electric vehicle (EV) industry, lithium ion battery cells have achieved the required energy densities for flight, and are increasing at a rate of 8% (Wh/kg) per year.
Is this for public or private transportation?
Ultimately, it can be used for both. Our first aircraft will target private transportation and we will then work to reduce cost, increase production volumes, and serve multiple applications, including public transportation.
How much will this cost?
Price is not finalized yet, but it will be substantially cheaper than a helicopter and in the price range of a car.
Aircrafts will have a small footprint and will require no runway, which means you can land or take-off from anywhere, making it easy to decentralize landing ports.
Take-off and landing locations do not have to be limited to the ground: landing ports on top, or even on the sides of buildings will increase the traffic flow.
How are you going to avoid congestion at take-off/landing locations?
Is this flight legal?
In the USA, you can legally fly a single passenger aircraft under 115 kg at speeds up to 102 kmph, without a pilot license, almost anywhere (airports and other air traffic heavy areas being the exception). Similar rules apply to Europe and Asia except with higher mass limits (more room for batteries).
Where do I charge?
We will adopt the EV industry standards, and due to its small footprint, our aircraft can land in a car’s parking space. Meaning you can charge on the existing ground EV charging network.
What if something goes wrong?
Safety is our main priority and it’s at the core of our mission. Air travel is inherently safer than ground travel, further, the simplicity of an electric drivetrain reduces failure rates significantly. The risk of vehicle malfunction is very low.
In the unlikely event things were to go wrong, on board parachutes, gliding, redundant systems, crumple zones, and landing skids, all ensure safety on the hardware side. Powering this, our flight system software with landing assist and obstacle avoidance. It removes the main cause of aviation accidents: human error, making our aircraft the safest design to fly.
How are you funding this?
We a for profit venture. We will raise capital to launch our first aircraft and from then use all revenue towards developing cheaper and better aircrafts.
If you are interested in helping us fund our mission, please contact us.