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Air taxi concept is taking off

Being developed: a design rendering of the AirisOne vehicle, an autonomous air taxi that can carry up to five passengers (Image supplied)

A flying taxi is being developed by a company led by Bermuda’s John Narraway. Design details have been revealed and work is under way to create a scaled, working prototype to take to the sky, possibly as early as this summer.

Airis Aerospace has designed an all-electric, five-seat aircraft that takes off and lands vertically. The company hopes that with sufficient funding from investors its AirisOne vehicle can reach the market by 2025.

Mr Narraway has a background in new technologies, and is consultant for emerging technologies at the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

AirisOne has been in development since the second half of last year after peer-to-peer ride-sharing company Uber announced its Elevate flying car programme. Uber plans to have an aerial taxi service by 2020. Around the world there are about 20 companies developing flying car plans, including Boeing, Airbus, and a number of small start-ups.

In Bermuda, Airis Aerospace has an office on Cedar Avenue, while its design centre is in Duluth, Minnesota. It is designing the AirisOne with a view to participating in ride-sharing air taxi programmes.

“For the first time in the history of aviation, the various technologies required to make eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] a reality are converging into a safe, viable and efficient combination,” said Mr Narraway, co-founder and chief executive officer of Airis.

“The industry is poised to accelerate exponentially from here and we are pleased to be at the pioneering stage for this new and exciting mode of urban transportation.”

The AirisOne is designed for short distance flights in urban environments. The production model will be capable of transporting five passengers up to 200 miles at a top speed of 175 miles per hour. It will have zero-emissions and will use dual coaxial lift fans for take-off and eight articulating thrusters for winged flight.

The vehicle will have a high level of autonomous operation, utilising autonomous avionics systems. The level of flight autonomy will be customisable based on individual jurisdiction’s airspace regulations.

Airis Aerospace said its aircraft will feature “real-time emergency landing routing, ballistic parachutes and fully redundant systems to ensure safety for the passengers and communities it operates in”.

Ray Mattison, an aviation designer, is the co-founder of Aris Aerospace and chief design officer. He said: “A unique feature of the AirisOne design is that it would be one of the world’s only fully wheelchair accessible aircraft. This is a design feature we think is critical in providing transport solutions in urban settings. Having an aircraft design that is customer experience focused from day one is a philosophy we will take into future products we design.”

Mr Mattison is also the founder of US-based Design Eye-Q, an industrial design firm focused on the future of automotive and aviation.

Meanwhile, Mr Narraway said: “We are building out our engineering team and to date have been self-funded. Now that we have achieved our first milestone, we are beginning the process of raising capital to build our flying demonstrator models and invest into the artificial intelligence systems for autonomous avionics.”

He said that based on funding “we should be in the air with a scaled prototype by the summer. This would allow us to conduct the test flights required to collect massive amounts of flight data to make a full size test aircraft.”

Mr Narraway said there has been a lot of interest from investors in the development of air taxis, and in the AirisOne project.

“We are beginning our seed round in a few weeks, and we have tremendous interest all ready for the Series A round [of fundraising] later this year.”

He added: “With the amount of successful funding and acquisitions already taking place, we have a high level of confidence in our ability to execute on our strategy, and plan to be in market by 2025 with a major ride-sharing provider.”

Airis Aerospace has a website at https://www.airisaero.com/