Tuesday, December 12, 2023

AutoFlight releases full test flight video of Prosperity I air taxi

A Shanghai-based high-tech eVTOL startup AutoFlight has released a new video of an upgraded proof-of-concept version of its electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Prosperity I aircraft undergoing a new battery of test flights.

The new largely uncut 8-minute video – showing an entire test flight, from start to finish – includes a modified, more efficient design of Prosperity I. The new air taxi design includes upgraded lift & cruise configuration, optimized lifting propellers, and enhanced hover and cruising efficiency.

In the latest design, new optimized lifting propellers allow for a higher hover efficiency, while the two pushing propellers that were previously on either side of the air taxi have been replaced with one center propeller with twin motors to enhance cruising abilities. This most recent design of Prosperity I is very close to the final design, which will be released later this year.

It is worth noting that the prototype Prosperity I first goes into a rather long vertical climb, and only after that does it makes a transition to cruise mode, although most similar devices begin to gain horizontal speed as they climb. Noteworthy is the sound accompanying the recording, which is quite low and relatively quiet – NASA experts recently measured the noise level from the Joby electric plane, and it turned out to be comparable to the sound of an ordinary vacuum cleaner.

The Prosperity I air taxi was designed for transfers between parts of a city, airport commutes, connecting two nearby cities, or enabling trips to the countryside while avoiding traffic on the ground. The air taxi promises to take four passengers up to 250 km (155 miles) at a cruising speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). When ready for commercial flight in 2026, it is expected that a trip that takes hours by car will be reduced to about 10 minutes with Prosperity I, without being any less safe or more expensive than a car taxi ride.

AutoFlight started building the latest proof-of-concept in Jan 2022. The production took around three months, with the maiden flight in April, before achieving over 30 successful transitions in the last few weeks with a full-size aircraft.