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Will eVTOLs take over the commercial small-helicopter market?

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by voyager, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. voyager

    voyager Member

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    Since the UBER Elevate Summit in April this year, more OEMs said they would develop eVTOLs, aircraft that can take off and land vertically and that use electric power. Among them AgustaWestland, Aurora, Airbus. Embraer. The argument for eVTOLs is as follows.

    1. If aviation authorities will allow parcel delivery drones, why not beef-up the rotors and airlift passengers? Electric rotor technology is constantly evolving (already past the 5 kW per 1 kg own weight threshold), so are lightweighting and battery technology.

    2. If we expect cars to ‘2D-maneuver’ autonomously through dense city traffic... then it should be less of a problem to have rotor-equipped vehicles auto-pilot themselves through the air, where there’s lots of 3D space to maneuver.

    3. eVTOLs are safer than ICE-propelled helicopters. They are less complex, have less mechanical parts, have no variable propeller settings (like a helicopter has).

    4. Change of regulations is up to aviation authorities of course. Adapting them will work as an enabler of one of the most exciting, new industries (same with developing self-driving cars). Generally, governments don't want to miss out on them.

    [​IMG]
    What say you?
     
  2. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    Batteries still have a long way to go before being competitive with liquid fueled air vehicles. This technology is also evolving rather slowly, consider that the S still has almost the same batteries as it did at launch, 5 years ago.

    This is not simpler, it is actually vastly more complex. More space means there is a greater possibility of finding a vaiable path, but it also means you now need to observe and plan in three dimensions instead of just two.

    They are not less complex, the complexity has just moved from hardware to software. Traditional helicopters can be, and for a long time were flown with no software at all. All that hardware may be complex, but it has been around for half a century and is well understood.

    This is probably the biggest hurdle. Aviation authorities are very slow to change. Just look at the difficulties the 609 has had in getting certified, and its not nearly as drastic a change.
     
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  3. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29, M3P 80k

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    Those "almost the same" batteries store 17% more energy, charge 33% faster, provide lots more power, and cost significantly less, while still fitting into the same box and weight.
     
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  4. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    Not sure where you are getting those numbers. The only improvement in the S/X batteries was the 85->90 which is a 6% increase in capacity. There also appears to be some limitation to durability of fast charging these new cells. The 100 packs use the same cells, just more of them packed tighter due to improved cooling design.

    (Note: The numbers are slightly different if you use actual usable capacities, instead of the BS nameplate ratings that Tesla give them.)
     
  5. voyager

    voyager Member

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  6. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I can believe that hybrid aircraft that use electric power to augment takeoffs make sense. Flying heavy vehicles in built up areas I can't believe.

    Aircraft are subject to far more forces than cars. Cross winds, while annoying in a car, can be catastrophic for an aircraft moving slowly near the ground.
     
  7. voyager

    voyager Member

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    Here are the eVTOL craft that are being developed.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. deonb

    deonb Supporting Member

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    Willing to bet we'll see a Raptor before we ever see one of these...
     
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  9. mhpr262

    mhpr262 Member

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    Companies may attempt to bring those things to market ... but when people actually experience the reality (constant annoying noise, and the occasional evtol falling out of the sky onto their heads or houses) they will raise such a legal shitstorm those things won't be any more widespread than helicopters are now.
     
  10. voyager

    voyager Member

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    There are all sorts of ways to reduce the noise level, may well be lower than a 'chopper'. To begin with, use so-called shrouded props, propellers that have some sort of nacelle built around it. This has the added benefit of ducting the airstream. Hence, electric motors are (way) more dependable than ICEs... One of Tesla's selling arguments.
     
  11. voyager

    voyager Member

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    “Strap on wings to go up, snap on wheels to go horizontal”

    Want to discuss the possibility of combining eVTOL and automobile? Go to one of the following meetings:

    12 Jan. AutoTech Council, 1608 Las Plumas Ave, San Jose, CA | 9:00 PST

    16 Jan. AHS (American Helicopter Society), Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco | 15:00 PST

    18 Jan. Electric Vehicle Entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, H.I. Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco | 20:00 PST

    22 Jan. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), either Palo Alto or Prospect SV in San Jose | 18:00 PST

    Prepare yourself for a meeting that will throw new light on ’Beyond UBER’ Ride & Flight hailing
    and the sort of sleek, lightweight EV that is long overdue.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  12. voyager

    voyager Member

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    Slight change of planned meetings:

    Strap on wings to go up, snap on wheels to go horizontal”

    Want to discuss the possibility of combining eVTOL and automobile? Go to one of the following meetings:

    12 Jan. AutoTech Council, 1608 Las Plumas Ave, San Jose, CA | 9:00 PST

    16 Jan. AHS (American Helicopter Society), Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco | 15:00 PST

    17 Jan. Silicon Valley Automotive Open Source, hosted by RTI, Sunnyvale, CA | 18:00 PST

    22 Jan. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) -and- Electric Vehicle Entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley,
    either Palo Alto or Prospect SV in San Jose | 18:00 PST
     
  13. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    Unfortunately, I think Elon is exactly correct on this. It's just too complex and dangerous to move urban transportation to flying vehicles. However, 3D traffic has a lot of advantages, hence The Boring Company.

    The question IMHO, is if he can get the cost of tunneling down enough to make multilayer underground travel practical.
     
  14. voyager

    voyager Member

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    Self-driving in the '2D pane' is much more complex than air-maneuvering in 3D space.
    Experts seem to agree on that. No pedestrians up in the sky for instance.
    Safety, dropping out of the sky in case of a rotor failure, can be offset (will be researched) by introducing an airfoil into the equation.
    Backed up by maybe a glider like chute.

    Boring company is about having to build a massively expensive infrastructure first. I don't believe in hyperloop either.
     
  15. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    What Elon was talking about WRT safety, and what I'm referring to, isn't crew safety, it's people on the ground safety. In an urban area there's very little space to make a safe emergency landing, even if partially controlled. I don't think anyone is talking about complexity of self driving. I can't imagine any kind of flying car like device that wasn't pretty much completely self driving.

    Then there's the related issue of weather. Low altitude, low mass, low speed aircraft are very susceptible to lots of different weather limitations, particularly during landing.
     
  16. voyager

    voyager Member

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    Air corridors can be situated away from the built environment, and run for instance parallel to freeways. It does mean that takeoff and landing facilities need to be like helipads are now basically. I don't see UBER's vision of air taxis freely air hopping between rooftops happening any time soon. This means that ground transportation to and from the eVTOL will remain important.

    eVTOLs need not perform worse under certain weather conditions than helicopters do. Perhaps they will do (even) better.
     
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  17. SwTslaGrl

    SwTslaGrl Member

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    The Cora,
     
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  18. voyager

    voyager Member

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    For those who are interested in an overview of all so-called eVTOL projects, here is one. As you can see, the U.S. taking the lead!

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. deonb

    deonb Supporting Member

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    Definitely! The U.S. has by far the most PowerPoint experts.
     
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  20. N5329K

    N5329K Active Member

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    Power density is king. So long as Jet A contains more usable energy than an equivalent mass/configuration of batteries, eVTOL will be relegated to short hop, light-load operations. The Amazon case is yet to be demonstrated as anything more than a gimmick/novelty/cool "we are the future" project. And as Jet A is consumed, the aircraft gets lighter and more efficient. Not so, batteries.
    That said, the only flying machine I have ever crashed was a Bell 47. But that really had an ICE engine flinging the blades around, and it wasn't the engine that failed.
    Robin
     

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