Rolls-Royce developing a flying taxi

Rolls-Royce has unveiled a concept electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle which could take to the skies as soon as the early 2020s.

The design, unveiled at Farnborough International Airshow 2018, could be adapted for personal transport, public transport, logistics and military applications and is based upon technologies that already exist or are currently under development.

The company explains: “The Rolls-Royce EVTOL project is part of our strategy to ‘champion electrification’ and realise our ambition to become the world’s leading industrial technology company. It builds upon experience gained providing hybrid electric propulsion for trains, naval vessels and other applications, plus our expertise in gas turbines, vertical take-off and landing technology, systems analytics and aerospace regulation and certification.

“The initial concept vehicle uses gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors specially designed to have a low noise profile. It also has a battery for energy storage. In this hybrid-EVTOL configuration it could carry four or five passengers at speeds up to 250mph for approximately 500 miles, would not require re-charging – as the battery is charged by the gas turbine – and would be able to utilise existing infrastructure such as heliports and airports.”

Rob Watson, who heads up Rolls-Royce’s Electrical team, adds: “Electrification is an exciting and inescapable trend across industrial technology markets and while the move to more electric propulsion will be gradual for us, it will ultimately be a revolution.”

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