Join us to participate in the upcoming 2019 City:One Challenge. 

Urban Air Taxi System (UATS)

Demonstrate an affordable air taxi system using E-VTOL technology and VertiStops to supplement the existing transportation infrastructure

Photo of Pete Bitar

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Overview:

 Flying cars and personal jetpacks have always been considered something out of reach and so far in the future that the majority of community planners have, at best, given them only vague acknowledgement of something for a future generation – certainly not for anyone in the here-and-now to acknowledge or consider.

Electric Jet Aircraft, LLC has developed and is in the process of testing and perfecting both a personal electric jetpack, called the EJ-1, and a personal flying taxi, called the VertiCycle. A third design, which is a two-seat flying car, is called the VertiCoupe and will be developed in 2020.

The EJ-1 and VertiCycle have both left the ground. They are being prepared for market, with the EJ-1 recently debuting at Oshkosh AirVenture, the world’s largest airshow, in Wisconsin, in July, 2019. Easy-to-assemble, quick-build kits have already started being sold as a result of that airshow. You can learn more at http://ElectricJetAircraft.com. 

VertiCycle:

The VertiCycle is also being tested, and will be offered as a kit to the public by year-end, 2019. This simple aircraft will use Tesla batteries (and thus, Tesla charging systems), along with multi-tiered safety systems integrated into each craft, allowing for 20 minute flight times per charge for local/urban air transport, from point-to-point.

Meant as a one-passenger flying motorcycle or flying taxi, the VertiCycle is an affordable, semi-autonomous electric quadcopter (think “drone for people”), using protected propellers in its ducted fans, and allowing for 20-minute flight times (15-20 miles) per charge. Also all-electric, the VertiCycle is quiet, efficient, safe and has multiple backup systems in case of anything that might go wrong. With retro-rockets, ballistic parachutes, and airbags for emergency landings, as well as the basic simplicity of electric motors (one moving part per motor) for propulsion, along with collision avoidance radar on board and fully connected (5G compatible) integration into a broader network, we envision VertiCycle to be among the safest forms of transportation possible with current technology.

VertiCycle will use Tesla battery packs (like from the Model 3) which are both efficient and standardized as well as well-tested and proven. Thus, the VertiCycle can also use Tesla Home chargers and Super Charger stations for recharge. As an aerial taxi, VertiCycle will have a bubble enclosure and will fly from VertiStop to VertiStop, each of which will have a solar-powered Tesla Super Charger in it, allowing for rapid recharge and battery swaps as needed between flights. The summoning of VertiCycle can be accomplished through the “VertiPod” App, similar to common phone apps like Uber or Lyft, to any VertiStop.

VertiCycle will be ready for market in Q4, 2019, and will be initially sold as a quick-build kit for enthusiasts, first responders, and others. The hope, however, is that it will also be demonstrated to municipalities interested in integrating an aerial taxi system in their cities, to alleviate traffic jams and to propel their transportation infrastructure into the future, inspiring a new generation of forward thinkers who look to 3 dimensional local travel as a common, everyday normality.

 VertiCoupe:

VertiCoupe is a 2-seat variant, using 6 of the same ducted fans as VertiCycle, with all the same safety features. VertiCoupe is already being developed, with test flights expected by mid-2020.

VertiCoupe will allow for greater comfort for a single passenger, as well as the ability to carry cargo, while also providing basic transportation for two.

EJA sees VertiCoupe being the primary air taxi aircraft of the future, with a range of over 30 minutes per charge and top speeds reaching 70 mph, VertiCoupe will be a practical flying car for an affordable price of $99,995.00.


VertiStop:

EJA will develop a stop for these air taxis called a "VertiStop", which will have a set of solar panels (to assist in energy usage and ultimately allow these stops to be energy neutral on the grid), a landing platform made of metal mesh and concrete, elevated with a loading ramp and accessible by wheelchairs and by foot. The system will also have a charging station for recharging batteries, an optional attendant booth, spare batteries, and optional porta-potty available for use. It will also have electric car charging stations, also powered by the sun and the grid, for commuters in a "Park and Ride" setup.

Urban E-VTOL System:

Current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations allow for aircraft like the EJ-1 and VertiCycle to fly as Ultralight aircraft, because of their light weight and single-passenger/pilot capacity. Thus, neither of those craft require a pilot license. The issue is that for personal use, Ultralight aircraft must fly in unpopulated space, away from cities, etc. We intend to market these aircraft for those markets immediately, and believe we will have customers that simply want a craft for fun.

However, the FAA also has a provision/exemption for “Public Aircraft”. This is the loophole EJA will use in marketing its air taxi system, as well as its sale of current Ultralight-class aircraft to first responders.

Public Aircraft means that any government agency, Federal, State or Local, can own/lease/operate aircraft under its own rules, outside of those imposed by the FAA. Thus, for example, a City could buy or lease through an agreed-upon financing arrangement, a fleet of VertiCycles and VertiCoupes and could, under today’s regulations, operate a fully-functional aerial taxi system in its jurisdictional boundaries.

EJA would sell or set up a lease/financing option with the City or County, along with installing a network of VertiStops, and share each app-driven purchase’s revenues with the government agency. We anticipate the rides to cost $19 per flight, which would cover all expenses and provide a small profit for the municipality to be used for other overhead and expenses. This compares favorably on a per-mile basis with ride-sharing in regular cars, and is affordable to most citizens, and amounts to between 1/5 and 1/10 the cost per minute/mile of a helicopter, making VTOL travel affordable and accessible to average people for the first time.

Additionally, Tesla or charger-compatible car owners could drive to the VertiStop and use the Super Charger to charge their own electric cars at that station, leaving them there until they return from their air taxi journey.

Bus riders could take the bus to a VertiStop or use an air taxi to get to a VertiStop which will be proximal to an Indy Go Bus Stop or Station, allowing for flexibility in travel options and getting the rider easily to a final destination.

The City One Idea, Indianapolis:

Electric Jet proposes to build a complete solar-equipped VertiStop, a simple landing platform (just a metal/concrete landing pad as a destination) with a ramp, and a VertiCycle single-seat Flying Taxi, with a basic enclosure for the $100,000.00 investment. The VertiStop would be situated near an Indy Go bus stop, on Indianapolis-city owned property, or on temporarily-rented property for the purpose of the demonstration. A demonstration ride or rides would be given to passenger/s to and from a remote landing platform to show safety, feasibility, and comfort of the ride. 

However, if desired by City One, we could instead build a single, 2-seat VertiCoupe for the same funding, as well as provide a single, basic metal/concrete landing platform for the demonstration.

This would be impetus to move forward with the City of Indianapolis to implement a broader flying taxi program. It would make Indy the first major city in the world to adopt such an integrated program and system, which could be fully implemented by late 2021. Because Indianapolis controls its own airspace, only an advisory would need to be given to the FAA. 

Indy and Ford Mobility would be considered visionary, urban transportation leaders if such a system were allowed to be demonstrated and ultimately implemented as proposed. 

 



Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Anyone can use the UATS solution, including wheelchair users, children, the elderly, or anyone else. At just $19 per ride (suggested), the system would be self-funding and would run in the black, and yet be in line with common ridesharing transport currently common today.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Prototype - you have built a prototype and tested it with potential users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

We learned that we could easily with minimal modification, add wheelchair accessibility into our design, and will do so for future iterations of the aircraft. We also found that noise and the lack of exposed propellers was a big benefit for operating in an urban environment, where our noise output was no less than that of a common city bus.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Electric Jet Aircraft, LLC, was established in June, 2018, to pursue personal, E-VTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) flight. The founder, Pete Bitar, has owned and sold off companies doing high-tech , including defense (developed a directed-lightning electrical discharge system used by US military to destroy roadside bombs without pre-detection - $20+ million in contracts), as well as having multiple patents in aviation and wind turbine technologies.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

VertiCycle: $50,000.00 VertiStop: $50,000.00 or VertiCoupe: $100,000.00 In either case, we could develop and demonstrate a working air taxi system which would garner national headlines...

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

EJA brings years of development and a working prototype to the table, having paid for, developed and tested the technology, especially by the time the award is granted. The plan is to build a new VertiCycle in about 3 months, and in parallel, be building and testing a VertiStop and destination landing platform in the same time-frame. Once both TANGIBLE objects are tested individually, several tests over the remaining 3 months would be conducted to integrate the two so that they can operate as a system. Additionally, a simple phone app can be written and implemented for demonstration purposes, to allow a user to reserve a VertiCycle at the VertiStop and have it ready for use at a time of their choosing. The destination can be set up a distance away (up to 7 miles) to allow the VertiCycle a round-trip to and from its charging station. We will order the components within the first 2 weeks, receive within the following 5-7 weeks, and construct both assets in the next 5.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Success of the UATS solution would be culminated in a well-attended public demonstration of the system, agreement by the City Of Indianapolis to begin implementation of a pilot system, and the interest of other municipalities in piloting such a system in their own cities. We also believe that the aspirational aspects of this solution are far-reaching, and allow for very positive attention to all of Indianapolis' future thoughts regarding mobility. What would people's perceptions be of a city that has flying taxis? How visionary would Ford appear if it was to fund such a pilot project? It would seem that the PR aspects of this Solution would in and of themselves, be a huge benefit to all those involved.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

We have run the numbers and the system will generate roughly $9 of operating profit per $19 flight, with the $10 of expenses including depreciation of the assets, supporting labor, energy costs (beyond solar) and basic maintenance. That extra $9 per flight could sustain not only the overhead of the oversight agency, but could help expand the system and make it profitable enough to create an 100% ROI over just 30 months. Thus the system could be doubled every 30 months with organic growth alone.

10 comments

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Photo of MaCie' Moore
Team

Hey Pete Bitar , this is MaCie' one of the facilitators here! Thank you for participating in the challenge! You are truly bring the future to the present with this proposal. Have you had the opportunity to talk with the City more specifically DPW, and/or city county council? I know when the scooters came to town their was some right of way, and safety concerns resulting in the city initially issuing out some restrictions and having scooters temporarily removed. I would suggest one of your first stops be talking with these groups to ensure the feasibility of the project. Great idea, and sounds super interesting. I can't wait to read more.

Photo of Pete Bitar
Team

Hi MaCie'! I remember you from the event!

I have spoken to leadership at IndyGo, as well as some others, but not the level of leadership you're talking about. I think the project would be very feasible and would be less intrusive than ground transportation ideas. The issues would be people's willingness to try something new, even if it was proven safe and effective. However, I'm very open to discussing this with DPW/City-County Council, or anyone else willing to listen. Would you happen to have any names or contact information for those folks? If so, please send to me at pete@ElectricJetAircraft.com . Thank you so much!

Photo of MaCie' Moore
Team

Pete Bitar if you send me an email with some of this information and a request to be connected with someone within DPW to discuss this idea, it would be easier for me to connect you with the right person. I currently work within DPW, and i cant say i know exactly who you should speak with, but i know a few colleagues who will. My work email is macie.moore@indy.gov

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