The US Air Force tested a ‘flying car’ that could soon be part of its flying arsenal.
Made by Texas-based LIFT Aircraft, Hexa is a lightweight 432-pound craft that runs on 18 independent rotors. The occupant is not required to have a pilot’s license.
The vehicle is controlled by a joystick and powered with a ‘triply redundant autopilot computer’ that, according to its creator, makes it safer than maneuvering a small traditional plane.
The military watched from Camp Mabry, a base near Austin, Texas, as Hexa lifted off from the ground and hovered overhead.
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LIFT CEO Matt Chasen pilots Hexa over Camp Mabry on August 20. The prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft uses 18 independent rotors and is controlled by a three-axis joystick
The test flight was part of Agility Prime, a partnership between private aerospace firms and the Air Force that’s meant to add flying cars to the military’s fleet and speed up their introduction in the consumer market.
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Jr were on hand on August 20 to watch Hexa, a prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing flight (eVTOL) vehicle, fly above the base.
LIFT CEO Matthew Chasen piloted Hexa during the demonstration,
It’s controlled by a three-axis joystick that LIFT CEO Matthew Chasen claims anyone can use – without a pilot’s license.
‘We’re making flying so simple, safe and inexpensive that anyone can do it with very little skill or special training,’ he said in a 2018 interview.
Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr., sits in Hexa. The test flight at Camp Mabry was part of a partnership between the Air Force and private aerospace firms meant to add flying cars to the military’s fleet and speed up their introduction in the consumer market
‘We’re truly consumerizing flying for the first time in history.’
Hexa is approved to fly to heights of 700 feet, or 1,200 feet in some locations, but not over populated areas.
‘The thought of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle – a flying car – might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie,’ Secretary Barrett said in April, when the partnership first launched.
Chasen (right) talks to Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (seated). With joystick controls and a ‘triply redundant’ autopilot system, Chasen says, Hexa is safer than piloting a traditional small aircraft. And it doesn’t require a pilot’s license
‘But by partnering today with stakeholders across industries and agencies, we can set up the United States for this aerospace phenomenon.’
Participating firms can perfect eVTOL technology without having to get additional time-consuming safety certification from the FAA, Task and Purpose reported.
The Air Force is spending $25 million on Agility Prime this year, according to Inside Defense.
The race to launch a commercially viable eVTOL vehicle is in full gear: Airbus, Boeing and Uber are all developing concept crafts, while the Japanese government is hoping to have a flying car on the market by 2023.
Tokyo-based SkyDrive recently unveiled the SD-XX, a two-person eVTOL craft that can reach a max speed of about 62mph.
Tokyo-based SkyDrive recently unveiled the SD-XX, a two-person eVTOL craft that can reach a max speed of about 62mph. Billed as the world’s smallest flying car, it can fit inside two conventional parking spots
Billed as the world’s smallest flying car, the eight-propeller vehicle measures just 11 by 13 feet and can fit inside two conventional parking spots
Using an autopilot with a backup human pilot for emergencies, the SD-XX would initially serve as an air taxi shuttling guests to resorts and hotels, according to Japan Times.
By 2050, SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa says, anyone will be able to fly it to almost any destination in Tokyo within 10 minutes.