Bel Air concept brings taxis in the sky a step closer

Developers hope these new aircraft will rescue urban-based travellers from gridlock and delay.

By Mary Grady 31/01/2018

The aviation world is fascinated with urban air taxis these days — small, autonomous, electric vehicles that can take off and land vertically. Developers hope these new aircraft will rescue urban-based travellers from gridlock and delay. But officials at Bell Helicopter, a Texas company that’s been building helicopters since the 1930s, say air taxis are nothing new — that’s exactly the niche helicopters have filled for decades.

Helicopters, of course, could at best be considered a first-generation air taxi — they’re powered by noisy, fossil-fuel-burning engines, and they require expertly trained pilots. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Bell unveiled a new concept for its own air taxi of the future.

Bell’s cabin mockup features luxe ergonomic leather seating for four — all passengers, no onboard pilot required — with a full suite of state-of-the-art technologies to ease the commute time. Video calling, wi-fi, and wireless charging keep travelers entertained and productive. Big windows provide a panoramic view of the passing scene for those who prefer to watch the world go by.

“The future of urban air taxis is closer than many people realise,” said Bell CEO Mitch Snyder, at CES. “We believe in the positive impact our design will have on addressing transportation concerns in cities worldwide.” Last year, Bell partnered with Uber’s Elevate project, directed by NASA veteran Mark Moore, which aims to bring urban air taxis to reality.

Bell is the first major helicopter manufacturer to exhibit at CES. The show also hosted the first U.S. flight of the Volocopter, a drone-like, electric-powered, two-seat multicopter built in Germany. The SureFly passenger drone, under development in Ohio, also was on exhibit at the show, but a planned demo flight was scratched due to rainy weather.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Embraer Is Testing Self-Flying eVTOLs Over Rio de Janeiro

The tech will lead to air taxis flying themselves as part of urban transport.

By Michael Verdon

12/05/2022

The First Electric Aeroplane That You Can Fast-Charge Is Coming

Diamond Aircraft’s eDA40 can be recharged in about 20 minutes.

By J. George Gorant

06/05/2022

The First Flying-Car Airport Opens In The UK

But you can’t take off just yet.

By Tori Latham

05/05/2022

Furniture Maker RH Has Designed Sleek Private Jets And A Yacht You Can Charter

The upscale home-furnishings company is bringing a trained design eye to both often-overlooked interiors.

By Helena Madden

02/05/2022

Inside The First All-Private Space Mission To The International Space Station

The Ax-1 crew is scheduled to splash down after conducting scientific research aboard the International Space Station for nearly two weeks.

By Michael Verdon

28/04/2022

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected