The flying taxis from Airbus and Uber may have some fresh competition, albeit not quite in the way they might have expected. Rolls-Royce has unveiled an EVTOL (Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) concept that could carry four to five passengers to virtually any large-enough landing spot thanks to wings that can rotate 90 degrees. It wouldn’t be purely electric, despite the name (gas turbines would produce the 500kW of power needed for six propellers), but it would be quiet while ferrying people up to 500 miles at a peak speed of 250MPH. Its wing propellers would fold away once at cruise height to avoid irking either passengers or people below.
The hybrid powerplant approach may not be the most environmentally friendly, but Rolls is pitching it as a time advantage. While there would be a battery for energy storage, you would only need to fuel the turbine to get back into the air. That’s potentially important for commuter services that may need turnaround times measured in minutes rather than hours.
The design is focused on “personal air mobility” for congested cities and could be used for both flying taxis as well as private transportation for the well-off (this is Rolls-Royce, after all). However, it’s flexible enough that the company sees it as useful for cargo hauling andmilitary purposes.