Wisk's autonomous flying taxi service set to take off in Texas by 2030

midian182

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Forward-looking: While we still don't have skies filled with flying taxis, that sci-fi vision of the future might not be too far away. Wisk, an autonomous aircraft startup backed by Boeing, says it expects its autonomous aircraft to be operational by the end of the decade, starting with operations in Texas.

Wisk is hoping that a prototype of its Generation 6 autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will make its first flight by the end of the year – the company is currently assembling the latest version. The eVTOL, which is able to hold four passengers and their luggage, will fly between 2,500 and 4,000 feet, have a 90-mile range, a speed between 110 and 120 knots, and a charge time of just 15 minutes.

The plan is for Wisk's air taxis to transport riders at a cost comparable to an UberX ride, said APAC VP Catherine MacGowan (via The Reg).

"There's a very comprehensive process for us to go through to be approved, to be certified, and approved to conduct autonomous operations, so we won't be carrying passengers and we won't be undertaking operations until the [US Federal Aviation Authority] FAA and other regulators as appropriate have been fully set aside," MacGowan admitted at the Singapore airshow.

Wisk said it has an agreement with the city of Sugar Land, Texas, to develop its autonomous air taxi services in the Houston area. Brian Yutko, Wisk's chief executive, said the greater Houston location is experiencing some of the highest population growth in the country, worsening its traffic conditions.

Wisk has been testing its eVTOL prototypes since 2010. There have been at least 1,750 flights across five iterations of the craft, which have resulted in "no significant incidents," according to MacGowan. Those words don't seem to placate everyone's fears of using autonomous flying taxis, though, with MacGowan admitting that younger people are a lot keener to use them than older generations.

The flying taxi industry is advancing at a rapid pace. A Paris service could be ready for the 2024 Summer Olympics, while China became the first country to approve autonomous flying taxis last year.

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If the road traffic wasn't bad enough, wait till these things start falling from the sky, on top of it, both figuratively and verbally.
 
The safety issues don't concern me: nobody wants or will allow these to be unsafe. There will be the occasional incident, and sadly some regulations will be written in blood, but that's always how the aviation industry has been. Certification will be a long and diligent process, and these won't be certified until they are safe.

The real question is a business one: can these be affordable and flexible enough (that is, enough landing/takeoff spots) to be practical? The only advantage I see of this over today's helicopters is that it is electric, which means lower energy cost. The remote pilot idea is much further away, certainly not achievable in the commercial space by 2030 (that goes back to regulators and safety), so there won't be any cost savings from a pilot perspective.

And these platforms are going to be expensive. Batteries, advanced composite materials, smart avionics, etc. are not going to be cheap.

I don't see eVTOLs being the solution to the air taxi problems on their own. I wish this company the best, I'm all for it, but I don't see the practical use case except for the 1% who could afford them, so for the rest of us, this is much ado about nothing.
 
We've heard flying cars are coming soon, but people have been saying that for decades. When it actually happens then I'll get excited about the future, but for right now it's still fiction.
 
The real question is a business one: can these be affordable and flexible enough (that is, enough landing/takeoff spots) to be practical?

I think these eVTOL bussiness will make sense as much as a limo service makes at present... I don't think something so common place as uber would be viable anytime in the near future till "flying cars" and it's needed infra become as cheap as "ground" transit solutions. But "flying" public transportation in the like of buses for like 100 people in metro areas would make sense sooner then flying cars for one person/family.

Btw a flying limo would be sick 😝
 
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If the road traffic wasn't bad enough, wait till these things start falling from the sky, on top of it, both figuratively and verbally.
I thought a lot about rules that will be imposed when these become popular.
One thing I am guessing is that there will be plenty of no fly zones, especially at the beginning and especially where a lot of people live or walk.

I think it will be crazy if these are allowed to fly above large cities and high-density housing areas.
In any case, it will be very interesting to see what laws will be made for these flying machines.
 
I thought a lot about rules that will be imposed when these become popular.
One thing I am guessing is that there will be plenty of no fly zones, especially at the beginning and especially where a lot of people live or walk.

I think it will be crazy if these are allowed to fly above large cities and high-density housing areas.
In any case, it will be very interesting to see what laws will be made for these flying machines.
You'd have to consider much lower quality control of these products, unevenly drained batteries, and simply moronic pilots, all of which will rain these contraptions on our heads and kills its passengers. Bad press is ensured. As the saying goes, "there's a f-ckery afoot".
 
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