The concept builds on existing technology and could be in operation as soon as the early 2020s
Rolls-Royce has joined the ranks of companies pushing the development of flying cars with a propulsion system design that it plans to show at the Farnbrough Airshow this week.
The London-based company, which is the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines, said it is looking for partners to commercialise the system, which it said could be in operation early in the next decade.
The electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle design announced on Sunday could carry four to five people at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour for up to about 500 miles, and is intended as a flying taxi.
Hybrid electric concept
The initial concept uses a gas turbine to generate electricity that powers six electric propulsors that are designed to have a low noise profile.
The vehicle’s wings can rotate 90 degrees, enabling vertical take-off and landing. It’s intended to use existing heliports and airports.
Rolls said the design builds on its existing work in hybrid electric engines, using its existing M250 gas turbine.
“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the company said in a statement.
Rolls said it is looking for an airframer and a partner to provide some aspects of the vehicle’s electrical system.
‘Personal air mobility’
“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 Rolls’ electrical team.
The company said it would reveal more details at Farnbrough.
Other companies developing flying cars include Airbus, Uber and start-ups such as Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page.