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Zuri

Zuri hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft

 

Zuri
Zuri SE
Prague, Czech Republic
www.zuri.com

In 2017, Czech entrepreneur Michal Illich began his start-up company and conceptualized an aircraft with wings using hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) (intracity flight, within the same city) or and between two cities (intercity flight). Illich has stated he started his company due to his frustration with the length of time it takes to fly between two fairly close cities using commercial jets. 

Illich has stated he has founded several companies since 1999 and as of 2010 he both an active investor in more than 20 companies and an entrepreneur in software and hardware. The company has received funding, is currently looking for more funding and is hiring employees.

September 2017 saw the first sketch of the of the hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft. In May 2018, the first subscale prototype was made to validate their aircraft design. In August 2018, a larger subscale prototype was made and flown. May of 2019 saw the testing of components for their one-seater prototype. In September 2019, wind tunnel testing was performed on a subscale aircraft model. Currently, the company is building a one-seat technology demonstrator.

Specifications for the Zuri include carrying four passengers, able to travel a range of 700 km (435 miles) in less than three hours, has a maximum cruise altitude of 3,700 m (over 12,000 ft), has eight propellers for VTOL flight, one turboprop for forward flight, has a hybrid-electric powertrain and has retractable tricycle-wheeled landing gear.

Zuri is a VTOL airplane. Zuri has eight electric motor with big rotors. Having less rotors would be dangerous, having more would reduce efficiency. Wings allow us much faster and cheaper flight compared to copters. The upward lift on the wings means we can switch the VTOL system off during the horizontal flight. A single engine for the horizontal flight brings high efficiency and low energetic demands.

All flight phases are controller by autopilot. During vertical flight, the on-board computer controls stabilization. Its reaction speed trumps that of a human by orders of magnitude. The autopilot ensures smooth movement and compensates for the force of the wind blowing. Horizontal flight is controlled by a fly-by-wire system, similar to what's used in other modern airplanes. Zuri is not a helicopter, flying car or a common airplane.

—Zuri website

Zuri is now developing a one-seat working technology demonstrator with a wingspan of approximately 11 m (36 ft) and a weight of 900 kg (about 2,000 lb). The demonstrator has a hybrid-electric power source including modern lithium battery packs and flies between 250-300 km/h (155-186 mph). The goal is to fly the demonstrator in March or April of 2021.

The company foresees the use of their aircraft as an air taxi, for business trips and holidays (vacations). The company reminds people that some destinations require a car, airplane and boat, plus multiple security checks and baggage transfers, to get to their final destination. With the Zuri VTOL aircraft, the passengers will fly point-to-point, for a fast and easy flight to their final destination with no stops and no transfers.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL
  • Piloting: Piloted with redundant fly-by-wire and autopilot
  • Capacity: 3-4 people
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Range: 500-700 km (311-435 m)
  • Flight time: 3 hours maximum
  • Maximum cruise altitude: 3,700 m (Over 12,000 ft)
  • Propellers: 9 propellers (8 VTOL propellers, 1 pusher propeller)
  • Electric Motors: 9 electric motors
  • Power source: Next-generation hybrid powerplant unit and modern battery packs with lightweight lithium cells
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Windows: Panoramic windows wrap around design allowing forward, left and right visibility, for spectacular views with a solid roof above the passenger compartment
  • Wings: One main high wing
  • Tail: Twin tail boom 
  • Landing gear: Retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • 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 battery boxes are equipped with fireproof insulation for maximum safety. There is a redundant fly-by-wire system. Computerized vision and other sensors offer supplemental safety features to help pilots with enhanced situation awareness for maximum safety. The aircraft can land on a runway or road if it becomes necessary.

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