If you ever imagined a future where you can zip around the city onboard a flying taxi, then you’re one step closer to that reality. Archer Aviation unveiled its Maker urban air mobility aircraft, which it believes will herald the next generation of safe and sustainable transportation while reducing traffic. Looking like a cross between an airplane and a helicopter, it can travel over 90km at speeds of up to 240km/h – perfect for ferrying VIPs for short flights within the city or regional commutes.
The Maker is classified as an eVTOL which means it’s electric and can take off and land vertically – meaning it can pick you up almost anywhere. Tilt-rotors are used to hover, before transitioning to a forward position for flight. Unlike a conventional helicopter though, the Maker is significantly quieter, generating only 45 decibels (the sound of a babbling brook) while cruising at 2,000 feet.
Being 100% electric, the Maker has zero emissions. It is powered by six independent packs of the company’s own Meru lithium-ion battery system with a total capacity of 75kWh. According to Archer, the Maker only uses up to 30% of its battery capacity per trip and requires only 10 minutes for a full charge. It has built-in battery redundancy to protect against potential battery or rotor failure.
Gullwing doors open to reveal the cockpit, which in this model, shows a two-passenger configuration with ample leg room, luggage space and a 270-degree view thanks to a wraparound window. A 13-inch touchscreen display lets the passenger key in their destination, access maps, fight statistics and current conditions of their destination.
But what makes the Maker truly remarkable is its ability to be a fully autonomous aircraft, using an array of sensors and built-in computers to take off, cruise and land on its own.
While not yet a fully operational prototype, Archer unveiled a full-scale, two-passenger demonstrator aircraft not only as a proof of concept but to serve as a certification testbed. The company plans to commence test flights later in the year and begin manufacturing a four-passenger model by 2023. It plans to deliver its initial fleet to United Airlines which hopes to launch commercial flights by 2024.
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