A lot of people have asked for more details on our plans around flying cars so we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to present our thoughts on where xCraft fits in this new and exciting market!
Urban Air Mobility (AKA flying cars) is an exciting space that people have dreamed about for decades. It was part of our founder’s original vision to see xCraft’s technology used to help move people and things efficiently and autonomously through the vast open airspace. Although it’s an exciting dream that seems to be closer to reality, we foresee several obstacles to full-scale adoption in the marketplace. Most notably, these obstacles are:
- Intrinsic noise generated by the flying vehicles
- Passenger throughput capability of a large scale air taxi operation
Aircraft are noisy. Even a small aircraft such as the Schweitzer 300C helicopter, emits almost 90 dB of noise at 100 feet away (citation). This is an uncomfortable amount of noise that can cause permanent hearing loss with long-term exposure (citation). A small flying car (or eVTOL as they are called) would likely generate even more noise than a Schweitzer 300C since they have more rotors with shorter blades which need to spin faster than a helicopter’s to produce the same lift. We don’t see public acceptance of such noisy eVTOLs being deployed on a mass scale in urban environments until this problem is solved. That is why it’s one of the key focus areas of xCraft’s future technology development.
Getting people in and out of a flying taxi at the same rate as they can do so in an Uber today is a huge challenge facing the Urban Air Mobility market. Many proposals revolve around placing eVTOL ports on top of skyscrapers. This presents the obvious challenge of getting people up and down elevators much faster than they do today. Elevators were not built to handle adequate rider volume. Also, to compete with ground-based taxis, hundreds, if not thousands of eVTOL flights would need to operate from a single location per hour. This is simply not feasible given airspace and time constraints. Consider that the busiest airport in the world (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta) handles approximately 200 flights per hour (citation) with a vastly larger logistical infrastructure than could fit on top of a building. To overcome this obstacle, clean sheet ideas need to be presented that remove the bottlenecks and allow true competition with existing ground-based transportation approaches. This is the second key focus area of xCraft’s future technology development.
In 2015, xCraft ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and later a Indiegogo campaign for the PhoneDrone. The concept was just what the name implies; it was a drone that carried a smartphone, using its camera, processor, GPS, and cellular connectivity to create an intelligent flying robot. xCraft has been issued patents for this technology.
Although the initial funding went well, the project faced many challenges and delays in delivery, culminating with our manufacturer in China pulling the plug and walking away with almost $300k of our backer’s money. This was a huge blow to a small startup and to our community. We decided to do the right thing; cancel the project and pledge to refund backers.
Today, we have already provided many refunds but the work is not done. We must refund every single backer before this company can move on to more exciting endeavors. Currently, we are in the process of refunding all PhoneDrone Backers/Purchasers and have been issuing multiple refunds weekly. As you can imagine, the list is quite extensive and gathering information of each backer/purchaser has delayed the process, but we are diligently working to get everyone refunded. We think that it is worth it to take care of the people who have helped us be successful!
So that is our story about flying cars and flying phones. The past is sometimes dark but the future is bright!