There’s been a great hullabaloo in recent times about the rise of airborne urban transport. Two companies showcased their so-called “flying car” concepts at CES this year, for example. Elsewhere, Airbus completed the first test of its Vahana autonomous air taxi; Uber and NASA partnered for a flying taxi project; AeroMobil unveiled a concept for flying car that can take off vertically and drive on roads; and Lilium raised $90 million to build flying taxis.
It’s becoming increasingly clear which direction urban transport is heading: upwards.
Up and away
While the technology is pretty much ready to make this happen, one major stumbling block — aside from safety regulation — is infrastructure. Flying cars or air taxis may not need roads for the most part, but they do need somewhere to take off from and land. And that is where New York-based Blade is looking to invest.
Blade doesn’t manufacture or buy its own aircraft — it works with third parties and serves as a platform for booking short-distance aviation vehicles, such as on-demand charter flights involving jets, seaplanes, and helicopters. It works on 22 routes in 7 states, and Blade promises to transform a typical two-hour drive from Manhattan to JFK into a five-minute flight. The company also has a partnership with Delta, meaning passengers can disembark from their plane straight onto a waiting helicopter.
In a world that’s seemingly moving toward urban-focused electronic vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft such as flying taxis, such transport will play a more integral part in Blade’s offering in the future….