Pipistrel this week released its eVTOL design concept as part of the Uber Elevate Summit, a convention held to further Uber's ambitions in the air taxi market.
The Pipistrel eVTOL employs dedicated propulsion systems for both cruising and vertical lift, and covers a family of aircraft able to carry from two to six passengers.
Uber Elevate is a plan to operate a network of small electric aircraft in cities worldwide to enable ridesharing flights in densely-populated cities. eVTOLs differ from helicopters in that they are intended to be quieter, safer, more affordable and more environmentally-friendly.
Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel’s founder and General Manager said: “Pipistrel is not trying to reinvent the helicopter by giving the vehicle many rotors, but is rather embracing dedicated propulsion solutions for cruise and vertical lift with built-in scaling capability for a family of vehicles with two to six seats.
"Pairing an innovative integrated vertical lift system, which is quiet and efficient, with highly aerodynamic wings results in a new class of eVTOL that maximizes high-speed cruise performance and dramatically lowers cost of operation for a clear advantage to Uber Elevate passengers.”
Pipistrel has vast experience with electric propulsion systems for aircraft. In 2011, they won the NASA Green Flight Challenge, which was the largest aviation prize in history at $1.5 million. Located in Slovenia, Pipistrel is producing 13 different models of two-seat aircraft, among which the Alpha Electro and the Taurus Electro feature an all-electric propulsion.
They've also recently developed the Panthera aircraft, a high performance four-seat GA aircraft that options fully electric power, hybrid or conventional fuel engines.
“Pipistrel has been one of the pioneers in electric aircraft development, initiating the age of electric flight," said Mark Moore, Uber’s Director of Engineering, Elevate Vehicle Systems. "As an Uber Elevate partner, their eVTOL concept is pushing towards the next generation of Distributed Electric Propulsion.
"We’re thrilled to continue our work with Pipistrel, and look forward to bringing this concept to the Elevate network.”