BMW has helped make an enormous 6-rotor drone-like flying machine that’s powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells.
Look, cars are great and all, but there are too many cars and not enough roads, and what few roads we have are being overloaded by too many cars and aren’t being replaced by cash-strapped governments. The only solution is to take the sky like it’s the 1930s all over again.
At least, that’s what BMW plans to do with the help of Alaka'i Technologies, a private company based in Massachusetts. Their flying taxi was just unveiled last Wednesday at a private event in Los Angeles, a place that is no stranger to horrible gridlock.
They call it “Skai.” For obvious reasons.
Skai’s selling point is threefold. First, it's clean. Using just hydrogen as fuel, Skai’s only emissions are oxygen and water, two things we could all do with a little bit more of. Each of Skai’s 6 rotors has its own hydrogen fuel cell providing power, and it can fly even if one of those motors breaks.
Second is simplicity. There’s a single seat for the pilot, but this isn’t like a regular helicopter. The controls are like something you’d find in an arcade machine, and that’s only if a human even plans to use it. Alaka'i expects the bulk of the flying to be done entirely by computers by autopilot.
Third, it’s cheap. The final expected price of Skai is around the cost of a luxury car, which might sound expensive, but in the world of aviation, a $60,000 plane is about as cheap as it gets.
Skai’s design takes the passenger experience very seriously. The 5 seats are arranged in a V so that everyone has a great view thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The rotors are also swept in such a way as to not block anyone’s sightlines. If you’re afraid of heights, 5G wifi provides ample distraction on your personal device.
The first Skai is expected in 2021 after receiving FAA approval in late 2020. Range is just 300 miles, but these are designed for short urban hops and not cross-country travel. That said, don’t expect these things to be as cheap as an Uber ride.