Air taxis to grocery-delivering drones: Sky isn’t the limit anymore

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New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) Although sky-based transportation has been one of the many out-of-the-box dreams of tech billionaire Elon Musk, mega tech show ‘CES 2024’ has showcased some of the eye-popping, above-the-ground innovations, beyond his companies, that promise a traffic-free commute and a real quick-delivery world.

Hyundai Motor Group took the lead at the global event, unveiling the prototype of its new air taxi model, as it steps up efforts to make inroads into the global electric flying taxi market.

Supernal, a US-based air taxi unit of Hyundai, showcased the product concept of the S-A2, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), at the consumer trade show.

The S-A2, built on the company’s previous S-A1 vision concept, brings together Supernal’s innovative aerospace engineering and Hyundai Motor Group’s automotive aesthetic design to create a new mode of transportation to transport people in urban areas.

The S-A2 is a V-tail aircraft designed to cruise 120 miles per hour at a 1,500-foot altitude to meet typical city transportation needs.

Hyundai said it features distributed electric propulsion architecture and has eight all-tilting rotors that power the vehicle through both the vertical-lift and horizontal-cruise phases of flight with unique efficiency.

“From the beginning, Supernal has been on a mission to create the right product and the right market at the right time,” said Shin Jai-won, head of the group’s advanced air mobility and CEO of Supernal.

Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon shared some new technologies the retail giant has been working on, including augmented reality (AR), drones, generative artificial intelligence, and other AI tech.

The company announced it’s expanding its drone delivery service in the Dallas-Ft. Worth in the US to 1.8 million households.

The deliveries, which take place in 30 minutes or less, are powered by Wing and Zipline.

Walmart said that 75 per cent of the 120,000 items in a Walmart Supercenter meet the size and weight requirements for drone delivery. To date, Walmart has done over 20,000 drone deliveries in its two-year trial, reports TechCrunch.

Amazon already has a fleet of Prime Air drones and by the end of 2024, new drones will replace the drones currently used to deliver in the US They will also be deployed in a new, third US state and in soon-to-be-revealed destinations in Italy and the UK.

The MK30 drone uses industry-leading “sense and avoid” technology that allows them to detect and avoid obstacles including people, pets, and property.

Meanwhile, Pivotal, backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, started sales of its lightweight electric personal Helix aircraft, which does not require a pilot’s license to be able to fly in the US, at ‘CES 2024’.

It means those paying at least the $190,000 base price will go without mandatory training but several rules and regulations would still apply.

Helix has more than 20 miles of short-flying range and a charge time of about 75 minutes from 20 per cent to 100 per cent battery using a 240V charger.

Pivotal CEO Ken Karklin said that the “market is ready for the wonder of aerial recreation and short-hop eVTOL travel”.

The base $190,000 model includes the Helix aircraft with a white-and-carbon fiber exterior finish and a digital flight panel, canopy, HD landing camera, charger, vehicle cart, custom marking and warranty, according to TechCrunch.

The to-end model is priced at $260,000 and offers an exterior in gloss white and carbon fiber with custom accent colour and includes premium flight deck, three chargers, beacon aircraft lighting, integrated emergency locator transmitter and one additional training slot for a friend or family member.



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