At nine-thirty in the evening, one otherwise nondescript day in November 1954, a Belgian man named Roelants was riding his bicycle in the village of Dudzele, West Flanders. As he passed a dairy, he witnessed a bright light rapidly descend from the sky. As he cycled closer, the light — which he now realized was some kind of flying object — rose vertically into the sky and then, suddenly, transitioned to a horizontal flight mode and took off at high speed like a jet plane. The entire incident, which played out in seconds, was entirely silent.


  • The evolution of transport
  • Coming soon to an airspace near you?

Roelants’ story — one of many, many similar reports described over the years — contained lots of the hallmarks of the unidentified flying saucer sighting. These much speculated-upon vehicles were usually assumed to be otherworldly for the primary reason that, put simply, real terrestrial aircraft don’t fly that way.

At least, they didn’t.

平家盛公上陸地/長崎ドローン4K空撮(NAP DRONE TEAM)
In January 2022, in China’s JiangSu province, a team of R&D engineers, assorted executives, and others from the air taxi company AutoFlight gathered to witness the ascension of the Prosperity I dr1. (No, it’s not saucer-shaped, but its unusual movement is still likely enough to spook the odd 1950s cyclist.)

On command, the remote-operated electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft — resembling a combination helicopter, light airplane, and eight-rotor drone — lifted vertically into the air until it was around 500 feet up. When it reached this altitude, it switched into a mode of flight akin to an airplane; the rotors on the top ceased to spin and locked into position, while the rear propellers began to push the aircraft forward like a traditional fixed wing plane. It then started to travel horizontally at speeds of up to 123mph, before landing smoothly, once more in vertical mode. The proof-of-concept test — showing this unusual form of locomotion in action — was considered a rousing success.

“For our cruise flights, we’re not flying like a drone — which you would expect — with propellers,” Mark Henning, AutoFlight’s European Managing Director, formerly of Airbus, told Digital Trends. “We have a real wing, which is necessary for an efficient flight. It means that [our craft flies] aerodynamically. The transition between vertical flights and what we call the fixed wing phase is, from a flight mechanical point of view, something extremely interesting. That’s something that not too many companies have mastered. … We think it’s worthwhile to tell the world.”

It is, of course, one thing to tell the world about some big potential breakthrough in air transportation. It’s another to deliver on it. The JiangSu test was a delivery — at least partially.

The evolution of transport

As with everything else on our planet, transportation is in a constant state of evolution. In under three centuries, our most sophisticated modes of everyday transport have shifted from the horse and cart to the steamboat and steam locomotive to the first cars and bikes. Today, the pace of change has continued, whether through the advent of electric cars and self-driving vehicles or the rise of ride-hailing platforms like Uber and Lyft.

However, the problem with any ground-based transportation is, put simply, space — and not the kind that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are obsessed with. This is where Prosperity I (and assorted other air taxi companies) want to clean up.

“In mega cities where we have very congested traffic situations, where most probably the public transportation system is already overloaded, you cannot grow any more to transport people,” Henning said. “But the need is still there to transport more and more people because cities are only going to [become more heavily populated] in the future. So what do you do? You go into the third dimension. You fly.”

This is the same trajectory architects followed when they began to create skyscrapers in the late 1800s, and in earnest, during the twentieth century. It’s also the same trajectory being followed today by some chip designers, who believe that the key to keeping Moore’s Law going is to use chips’ z-axis to pack in more transistors as though they were multistory buildings.

The idea of offering air taxis isn’t a wholly new idea. There are other companies exploring this idea when it comes to electric drones. And for years now, private helicopters have been used to ferry one-percenters to their marble-clad offices while the rest of us sit in traffic. But this isn’t an accessible mode of transportation for the majority of people.

ヘリコプターは、実行するのに高価であり、動作するために複雑であり、そして多くのノイズを作ります。 Goldman Sachs Executiveは、より早くオフィスにアクセスするために1つを使用するかもしれませんが、彼らはおそらく途中で静かな思考時間で特に禅の旅を楽しんでいません。一方、繁栄私は静かになることを約束します。ドイツに拠点を置くヘンニングは、それが「オートバーンを旅する自動車ほど静かな」になると言います。

彼はデシベルの点で正確な騒音レベルを提供しないが、彼は言った、「アイデアはあなたが航空機に座ることができるということであり、私たちが今話すように話すことができるということです。」 (注:当時は互いに叫んでいませんでした。)

「繁栄できるように、この種の航空機で飛んでいます。 「私たちはシンプルなデザインをしています、そして私たちがヘリコプターに持っているように燃焼エンジンや複雑な歯車や運転列車ではありません。それはすべて非常に低い運用コストに加算され、経営費が削減され、エンド顧客の低価格に翻訳されます。」





ヘンニングポイントは、この目標を配信するために完成しなければならない3つの柱を指します。 1つは完全に認証された、繁栄を完了した完成された繁栄を構築する技術問題です.2番目は、必要な地上インフラの開発です。これは電気自動車用の充電ポートの堅牢なネットワークを作成することと同等です。

3つ目は、交通管理に関する法律です。 「私たちはたくさんの航空機を持っています – そしてもちろん定量化される必要があります – しかし、あなたは小さな空域に航空機がたくさんあるでしょう」とHenningは言った。 「彼らは、都市環境内の都市上でそれらを飛ばすことができるように、アジャイルで非常に安全な方法で管理されなければなりません。」


「もちろん、あなたは革新的な政府機関を必要としています。 「そしてはい、私たちは[vertiportsの構築を許可します。 “


「米国では、私たちはある程度の加速度を持っていることを願っています。 「私たちは適切な公共交通機関を持っていません、まったく何もありません」


この次のGen Travelフィールドの大きな勝者はまだ明らかにされていません。ただし、AutoFlightは確かにバズを作成するという良い仕事をしています。そしてそれがその空気タクシーの繁栄と呼ばれるという事実に基づいて、それは明らかにそれが勝者にあると信じています。