ASKA™ 1.0 (concept design)
Los Altos, California, USA www.askafly.com
Founded in 2018, ASKA™ is developing a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that will work both as an aircraft and ground car, that is, a drive-fly vehicle. The company is headquartered in Los Altos, California, USA, and opened the world’s first flying car showroom in Los Altos on April 15, 2021 to launch pre-orders of the ASKA™ roadable aircraft. On June 7, 2019, ASKA™ 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 the company said "it’s the first viable eVTOL vehicle that can both drive on the road and fly autonomously in the sky."
The company foresees door-to-door same road-and-air vehicle as the best method for the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) industry. A big advantage for this vehicle is there is no need to travel to airports and there will be no need to pay for on-demand ground taxi service. The passenger's entire trip will be in one vehicle. The company will eventually transition the aircraft to be an all electric aircraft when battery technology has enough energy density to fly long distances and are completely safe to use for air travel.
Announcement of the ASKA™ 1.0 hybrid-electric VTOL concept design roadable aircraft
The announcement of the four passenger ASKA™ 1.0 hybrid-electric VTOL concept design roadable aircraft 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. At the time, ASKA™ had planned to fly a large (but smaller than full-scale) uncrewed demonstrator vehicle in the first quarter of 2020.
ASKA™ 1.0 specifications
The ASKA™ 1.0has an estimated maximum range 350 miles (563 km). The fuselage of the aircraft looks very similar to an automobile with the very noticeable features of having one main high wing and 16 electric ducted fans (EDFs), has 16 electric motors, has four automobile wheels and has four electric motors for the wheels for ground travel. There are 12 dedicated electric ducted fans for VTOL flight and four dedicated electric ducted fans for forward flight. The high wing will fold towards the rear of the aircraft when traveling on the road and when in storage. The aircraft can be parked in a standard parking space, on a driveway or inside a garage.
ASKA™ has said their aircraft 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, ASKA™ 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.
Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL and ground vehicle concept design
Capacity: 4 passengers
Cruise speed: Unknown
Maximum range: 350 miles (563 km)
Propellers: 16 electric ducted fans (EDFs)
Electric Motors: 16 electric motors for ducted fans and 4 electric motors for ground travel
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.
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