Covid-19 Casts a Dark Cloud Over the Flying Car Future

An economic slump is no good for a long shot business that's just starting to take

Curated via Twitter from WIREDTransport’s twitter account….

Dallas-based helicopter manufacturer Bell has indicated it’s still advancing its Nexus aircraft. "The Nexus program has not been affected by Covid-19," the company said in a statement. "We’re continuing to test our technologies, making substantial progress, and are still tracking to our timeline. " The company has a team of 70 working on the effort, and it expects it to start service in the second half of this decade, with a demonstrator aircraft debuting within a few years.

That’s always been contingent on manufacturers successfully developing the aircraft and securing government certification, goals rendered trickier by Covid-19. “The pandemic certainly affects some of our vehicle partners who, while working remotely, are unable to perform some R&D activities,” says Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate. “We are hopeful that we could potentially launch commercially by 2023, but we’re staying flexible.

With 250 companies working in some capacity on the matter—from designing aircraft to developing propulsion, battery, and control systems—it was already inevitable that some wouldn’t reach the finish line. “A large percentage of them were destined to fail organically, and Covid will accelerate this thinning of the herd,” says Cyrus Sigari, who cofounded the UP series of air-taxi leadership summits.

Clark says that investors in eVTOL technologies have always known that it’s a long-term proposition, and that that will help manage a downturn. “The returns that everybody in the industry are talking about are measured between three and 10 years, both to investors and customers. ” For now, his team has pivoted to remote work, with many engineers setting up 3D printers at home for prototyping parts. “Humans are humans, and we're gonna get back to work and move things forward.

Link to original article….

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