Founded in 2017 by British entrepreneur Martin Warner, Autonomous Flight is in the business of designing and manufacturing non-polluting electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft which are easy to manufacture and are highly reliable. To date, the company was initially funded by Warner and a small group of private investors with $1 million USD. In January 2021, the startup launched a funding round to raise $25 million to get his eVTOL aircraft into production. Warner calls Urban Air Mobility (UAM) the "next gold rush".
In 2015, Warner sold his 3-D printing company, Bot Objects, for $50 million. He also runs an air logistics software company called Parcel Fly and is involved in the movie distribution business through the Flix Premiere streaming service.
The Autonomous Flight Y6S eVTOL is a two passenger short range winged and tilt-propeller aircraft initially designed as an air taxi. However, the aircraft can be used for various missions depending upon who is the owner of the aircraft. The aircraft initially will be piloted and has been designed to be a completely autonomous aircraft once the technology is matured and safe.
The vehicle has a forward canard wing which at each end, support two ducted tilt-props, each duct with two propellers. The rear of the aircraft has high wing and behind the rear wing has two stacked stationary propellers that are ducted and used only for vertical flight. The rear wing has winglets. The Y6S is fully electric and is powered by lithium-ion batteries. While virtual videos from the company show the Y6S aircraft with retractable landing gear, yet the full-scale prototype in pictures, appears to have fixed landing gear.
The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), a range of 80 miles (130 km)and a cruise altitude of 1,500 ft (450 m). The aircraft has multiple redundant systems which reduces the chance for a single point of failure and the aircraft is equipped with a ballistic parachute. (In 2019, the estimated cruise speed was 70 mph (113 km/h) but as of January 2021, the company's website reports the maximum cruise speed of the aircraft is 125 mph (201 km/h)).
The pricing goal for the Y6S aircraft, used as a short range air taxi, is have the cost of the flight to be close to the price train ticket of the same distance. The vehicle is described as being part of an air service that can go from Heathrow airport to Charring Cross (in London) in ten minutes.
However, Warner doesn't believe a two seat aircraft for on-demand Urban Air Mobility provide a good return on investment, which is why the company has made the six seat Y6S Plus eVTOL aircraft for UAM flight. Autonomous Flight has also stated they have plans for a four seat and eight seat passenger aircraft, the AS1.
Warner has stated that once people are flying in an urban environment, not only will it be faster but they'll be able to take in the incredible views of the world we live in on a regular basis, like they'd never had before. In 2019, Warner said he expects the two seater aircraft to cost around £20,000 pounds ($27,378). The company sees eVTOL aircraft as a compliment to all other forms of urban travel.
A prototype test flight is planned for the third quarter of 2019 with a manned test flight in the fourth quarter of 2019. In 2018, Warner estimated commercial service within the United Kingdom is projected for 2023; however, in January 2021, he projected on-demand air taxis service won't be flying until 2035. Warner has estimated that autonomous flight will happen near 2030.
Aircraft type: eVTOL luxury aircraft
Piloting: 1 pilot (when technology allows, autonomous)
Windows: Panoramic windows allowing forward, left, right and top visibility, for spectacular views
Wings: Canard low front wing and a high rear wing. The rear high wing has winglets.
Landing gear: Fixed skid-type landing gear. The full-scale prototype has tricycle type fixed-landing legs with 2 additional legs, one leg near the end of each of the forward canard wings.
Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. The aircraft has multiple redundancies, so if there is a single point of failure, other systems are in place so the aircraft will still continue to fly and land safely.
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