LAS VEGAS: The vision of an air taxi swooping you off to your next appointment without having to worry about congested roads took another step to reality, after Bell Helicopter unveiled its Bell Nexus prototype at the ongoing CES 2019.
The full-scale prototype of Bell's vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxi was first unveiled on Monday (Jan 7) ahead of the official opening of the consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas.
Key to its eye-catching design is the six tilting ducted fans, which help the vehicle achieve lift-off and movement in the air.
The American manufacturer said in its press release that it will lead the design, development and production of the VTOL systems, but it is also collaborating with five others to make the Bell Nexus a reality.
Safran will provide the hybrid propulsion and drive systems; EPS will develop the energy storage area; Thales will provide Flight Control Computer hardware and software; Moog will develop the flight control actuation systems; and Garmin will integrate the avionics and vehicle management computer, it added.
Bell had created buzz about its urban air taxi vision at the last CES, showcasing the cabin interior, but the Bell Nexus fleshes this vision out.
The company's Asia general manager Chris Schaefer had previously told Channel NewsAsia it sees the potential for urban air taxis to take off in Southeast Asia. He added the market in Singapore would respond favourably to such a service.
Schaefer had also said Bell plans to launch its urban air taxi by 2025.
Besides the Bell Nexus, the US manufacturer is also allowing visitors to try its Future Flight Controls simulator at its CES booth.
Data from these simulators will be used to determine what actions and interfaces are intuitive to the average potential operator and what prior experiences and abilities contribute to these opinions, the press release said.
"As space at the ground level becomes limited, we must solve transportation challenges in the vertical dimension – and that’s where Bell’s on-demand mobility vision takes hold," said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell Helicopter, said.