This Startup is Building a Hydrogen-Powered Flying Car

These innovative electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles will serve as sky taxis, cargo carriers, and ambulances.

Jun 20, 2019

Urban transportation could soon take to the skies with flying cars soaring above the gridlock. Just imagine sleek futuristic flying cars taking off and landing without having to go anywhere near an airport.

The future is closer than you think. Massachusetts based Alaka'i Technologies unveiled the Skai machine on May 29, 2019. Skai is the first electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) hydrogen-powered flying air taxi that will seat five, have an incredible 400-mile (640 KM) range and can fly for four hours. That is sure to be a significant time saver.

Using hydrogen-powered cells is radically different than the current lithium battery technology that other electric air vehicles use. Lithium technology offers poor energy density that limits the weight capacity and the range that VTOLs can fly. This clean green technology is solving both issues.

According to the company press release, Skai's hydrogen fuel cells allows it to travel further distances and carry a larger payload. The top speed is 118 MPH, and the vehicle can be refueled in 10 minutes; that's even faster than gassing up a car.

Alaka'i Technologies has been working on the design of the new air taxi for four years and announced that " Skai is poised to be one of the safest, cleanest and most versatile air mobility solutions introduced to the world."

Skai was designed by aerospace engineers, experts, and pilots who have worked at NASA or leading aircraft manufacturers. It was co-designed by Designworks who came up with its sleek futuristic look that was specifically designed with the passenger experience in mind. However, what the design isn't, is even more important. The design has eliminated complexity to get rid of waste and points of failure so that Skai is an incredibly reliable vehicle.

“This remarkably impressive team have come together to build on our collective experience to finally realize our singular, critical vision to launch Skai and transform transportation,” Brian Morrison, Co-Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer of Alaka’i Technologies said in the press release.

The aircraft looks relatively simple with a six-rotor multicopter that could conceivably continue to fly even if two of the rotors are not functioning, according to New Atlas. The Skai taxi operates more like a drone than like a conventional helicopter or airplane and requires thrust to stay in the air, but that may change in later designs. In case of complete engine failure, the Skai carries an airframe parachute.

While the design includes a pilot, and its launch will be piloted and not autonomous, the company said that it is looking to make it pilotless in the future. The first test flight will take place later in 2019.

The company developed the eVTOL hydrogen technology with just one funder according to a SoCalTech interview of Alaka'i CEO Steve Hanvey. This sole investor has carried the project through design, development, prototyping, and now through the process of getting Federal Aviation Administration certification which the company hopes to receive by the end of 2020 due to the vehicle's simplicity.

So, could this be the future of eVTOL technology?  Morrison thinks so, “Skai offers practical, real-life solutions to everything from relieving traffic congestion to delivering supplies during natural disasters," he said in the company release. "Skai is set to offer affordable, realistic applications in the commercial, private, freight, and personal air mobility market.”

Flying e-cars may soon be as common as electric cars. After all, when it comes to new clean technology, the sky is no longer the limit.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.

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