ASKA 1.0 Concept Design
New Future Transportation, Inc. (NTF, Inc.)
Los Altos, California, USA
Founded in 2018, New Future Transportation, Inc. (NTF) is developing a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that will work both as an aircraft and ground car, i.e., a drive-fly vehicle. The company will eventually transition the aircraft to be an all electric aircraft when batteries have enough energy density to fly long distances. Los Altos (California, USA) is the location of NFT’s research and development center, its Center of Excellence is based in Israel and its quality assurance and manufacturing center will be located in Japan.
On June 7, 2019, NFT unveiled its ASKA 1.0 concept design and provided the Vertical Flight Society with an interview and details on its vehicle. ASKA means 'flying bird' in Japanese, and NFT says "it’s the first viable eVTOL vehicle that can both drive on the road and fly autonomously in the sky."
The announcement was made just prior to the display of a large model (1.5 m x 2.5 m) of the vehicle at the EcoMotion Event in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 10-13, 2019. NFT plans to fly a large (not quite full-scale) unmanned demonstrator vehicle in the first quarter of 2020.
NFT says ASKA was "developed with a team of experts with vast experience in aeronautical and autonomous AI systems, including the development of the most advanced unmanned air vehicles in Israel and the US. Our team includes air vehicle engineers, automotive engineers, aerodynamic engineers, flight control engineers, algorithm engineers, autonomous systems engineers, and electrical engineers, all of whom share our dream of reshaping the future of transportation with a real autonomous flying car."
In its press release, NFT announced the following details:
We set our goals high for ASKA – and achieved them:
- The size of an SUV with a UAM range of up to 350 miles: ASKA accommodates up to three people and runs on rechargeable batteries with a range extender (hybrid) propulsion system.
- Autonomous flying: ASKA flies autonomously with its unique Sense & Avoid system. Sophisticated AI for detection & collision avoidance in the air, dealing with air challenges by sensing, building an awareness picture and choosing the best safety action in the flight path. ASKA has a unique IP for autonomous systems that validates and verifies these capabilities. We will integrate it with existing autonomous driving systems to make ASKA fully autonomous in the air and on the road.
- Affordability and mass market potential: Subscription model – ASKA is available as a subscription-based model, in addition to an ownership model. On a subscription basis, customers can use ASKA whenever they need it. Owners could create a revenue stream by putting their vehicle into the fleet when they are not using it. Market demand for door to door travel: ASKA offers the comfort of all-in-one, door to door transportation, enabling you to drive, fly and drive till your final destination, without the need to change from a car, to an air taxi, and then a car again. ASKA’s affordability, combined with the advantage of door to door travel, will trigger extraordinary market demand. Mass production- we target working with automotive industry players to manufacture ASKA. These automotive manufacturers have the capability for low-cost mass production and high quality. With ASKA, people have an affordable transportation solution that enables them to live and work wherever they like, reducing the cost of living and improving the quality of life.
- Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities: Breakthrough technology delivers necessary thrust within a limited space. All ducted fans are within limited asset space, similar to the size of a car.
- Minimal infrastructure investment: Because ASKA is both drive and fly, it can be parked on the street/in a garage, and charge in existing charging stations. For takeoff and landing, minimal infrastructure is required (a launch pad of just 20 x 20 meters); ASKA will drive in and out, whereas other flying aircraft require terminals, special parking spaces and charging stations.
- Safety for families with children: Engineering breakthroughs provide careful attention to safety, such as no exposed propellers.
- Green: Our target is a 100% electric propulsion system. The first ASKA model will have a hybrid system that works with current battery technology and still achieve our target ROI. and we are in development to have a hydrogen-based propulsion system for the next generation of ASKA.
Other engineering challenges our team has solved:
- Highly aerodynamic design: The operating requirements and form factor of road and air vehicles are not the same. Our out-of-the-box thinking led to an advanced aerodynamic configuration that drives safely and effectively on the ground and flies very efficiently with improved L/D (lift-to-drag ratio) in the air.
- Safe and simple transition to level flight: The sequence of transition from vertical flight to level flight is one of the main challenges in designing VTOL air vehicles. ASKA combines 14 ducted fans, wing, and control surfaces with advanced control software to ensure a safe and smooth transition.
- Quiet operation: A sophisticated ducted fan geometry and rotor design ensures a low noise level.
- Evacuation: Because ASKA is the size of a car, it can be moved with a typical tow track - no need for special cranes, etc.
- Charging and fueling: ASKA will use existing charging and fueling stations to eliminate the cost and environmental impact of building an extensive new infrastructure.
- Additional safety features: Design innovations match FAA safety requirements which include high reliability, back-up systems and sophisticated redundancy management algorithms.
- Safe landing: In case of power system failure the battery package will support a 5 km radius for safe flight and landing.
NFT eVTOL dashboard as featured in their February 2019 video
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL and ground vehicle
- Piloting: Autonomous
- Capacity: 4 passengers
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Maximum range: 350 miles (563 km)
- Propellers: 16 ducted fans
- Electric Motors: 16 electric motors for ducted fans. Additional motor or motors for ground travel, possibly.
- Power source: Hybrid-electric power source at the beginning. Once batteries have enough energy density, the aircraft will become all electric powered by batteries only.
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Standard car type windows
- Wings: One main retractable high wing.
- Landing gear: Four wheels
- 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. Sense & Avoid system. AI for detection & collision avoidance in the air, dealing with air challenges by sensing, building an awareness picture and choosing the best safety action in the flight path. No exposed propellers. If there is an unexpected power failure, the batteries will provide the aircraft with a maximum of a 5 km range to safely land the aircraft.
- NFT, Inc. website
- NFT, Inc. YouTube Channel
- LinkedIn article: Drive & Fly, Door-to-Door Low-cost NFT eVTOL, LinkedIn, Oct. 18, 2018
- Article: The Israeli car that will take off from the roof, YNetNews, Nov. 24, 2018
- Article: Buzz grows on 'flying cars' ahead of major tech show, Phys.org, Jan. 4, 2019
- Article: Israeli company leads flying car 'buzz' ahead of major tech show, The Times of Israel, Jan. 7, 2019
- Article (exclusive): Here's the Aska flying car that could whisk you to work in 2025, CNET, Jun. 8, 2019
- Video: NFT ASKA eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) drive & fly vehicle, ASKA by NFT eVTOL drive & fly vehicle, Jun. 8, 2019