Update the website, long overdue:
Includes an edited version on my take on the eVTOL market as it stands, viz.
What electrification does for flight is to diversify the means of getting airborne, more than has ever been possible, in the way that nature fills every possible niche in the air.
Previously the most consistent attempt to apply multiple motors to flying machines in ways that are seen increasingly today was that of a Canadian working in California, in the shape of Paul Moller. He is largely overlooked by the current generation of entrepreneurs for the simple reason that his ideas were ahead of his time, and the electrical equipment available to experimenters today did not exist in the 1970s and 1980s.
In the way the Wright brothers pioneered flight only once the internal combustion engine had become viable, electrical VTOL only became possible when able to supplant that form of power in turn. Altogether simpler to distribute around airframes, the single (or twin) engines familiar to conventional aeroplanes and helicopters are being supplanted by any number of electrical motors driving fans or propellers ~ as few as eight though anywhere between eighteen and three dozen in the ‘flying taxis’ attracting current venture capital.
An analogy is computing, in which a single ‘calculating machine’ available to government and commercial offices would gradually be replaced by a computer on every site, then a PC on every desk and finally a smartphone in every pocket: a multiplication of means. In terms of the overall market for electrical aircraft there is likely to be a wider diversity of ‘phenotypes’ than those that evolved in the hydrocarbon economy, because of the ease with which lightweight and powerful motors can be distributed throughout both airframes and the global economy generally.
The costliest implementation of a means of VTOL for conventional types for instance was that to develop the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and not the least of the reasons which have led to the costliest overrun in aviation history is the previous complexity of vertical lift. In contrast, the great majority of ventures into electrical aviation take this ability as a given.
As a consequence, whilst the bulk of investment capital is aimed the soonest returns from multiple-occupancy eVTOLs and cargo drones, the ecosystem of electrical flight is rather broader altogether. This itself reflects the evolution of pre-existing technologies like the motor-car, which in the UK for example sprang from singular prototypes to a diversity of manufacturers numbering over two thousand… which would nonetheless be reduced to around a half-dozen as internal-combustion engines evolved toward their senescence.
This widening of development means that single-occupant or personal eVTOL has a place, although you might argue that single-seat rotorcraft almost literally never took off, while that the most numerous of helicopters is a two-seater in the shape of the Robinson R22. Nonetheless the R22 was premised on the basis that two seats would be considered the ideal from a practical and sociable point of view, not least because of the sizeable training market available to a type with seats for a student and instructor.
Previously the overriding issue against the success of single-seat types however was the fact they were practically as expensive to purchase, maintain and operate as larger types. This is wholly less likely to be the case with multicopters that already bestride a range of applications from aerial photographic types through industrial and agricultural drones and cargo-copters. The latter already raise payloads in excess of that required to transport an individual, and thus the ability to do so is a logical progression that fills a niche between uninhabited variants and multiple-occupancy types. It is well worth considering after all that in most economies charabancs and buses long preceded private-owned automobiles.
Our view therefore is that personal eVTOLs are a natural development of the environment already enjoyed by millions of drones in use worldwide. At the same time there has always been a vibrant kit-build market for aircraft from the beginnings of aviation ~ or what else could the Wright Flyer be considered? The key to continuing this tradition with electrical aircraft depends on manufacture and distribution as much as it does with aerodynamics.
From the outset ~ and of necessity ~ the TELEDRONE has therefore been designed for flat-pack assembly and modular means of operation which reduce the cost of ownership. It is also worth noting that birds were hopping or gliding long before they could fly… and it is no coincidence that eVTOLs have invariably been tested at low-level and over water.
Beside the market for individuals wanting access to their own personal ‘helicopter’ there is therefore an impetus for the replacement of traditional means such as boats, helicopters or hovercraft in a variety of roles, in ways that drones have largely supplanted rotorcraft. It is as ever a question as ever of walking before you can run, or of climbing ladders one rung at a time.