FARNBOROUGH, England -- London's iconic black taxis could soon have competition from above, should Rolls-Royce meet its goal of deploying electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles in the early 2020s.
Rolls-Royce's concept EVTOL vehicle, unveiled during the Farnborough International Airshow, would seat up to five people, have a range of 500 miles, a cruising speed of 250 mph, and have applications in the personal, cargo and military sectors.
"We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners," said Rob Watson, head of the company's electrical team.
According to Rolls-Royce, its EVTOL concept is based largely on technologies that already exist or are currently in development.
The craft would rely on a Rolls-Royce M250 gas turbine engine, modified to function as part of the EVTOL's hybrid electric propulsion system. This system would drive six lift motors, mounted on wings that would rotate 90 degrees for take offs and landings.
"Rolls-Royce has a strong track record as pioneers in aviation," Watson said. "From developing the first turbo-prop and jet engines, to creating the world’s most efficient large civil aero-engine and vertical take-off and landing solutions, we have a very strong pedigree. As the third generation of aviation begins to dawn, it’s time to be pioneers yet again."
Watson said the company could have a flight-ready unit by the end of next year, with demonstrations to begin in two years.