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  #1  
Old September 26th, 2018, 09:19 AM
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Default TL 8/9 air taxis

CNET article, some good images that could be used for TL 8/9 or so (or higher - switch to grav). I use this sort of thing for inspiration (and then never actually use the stuff - too much time in my own head!)

https://www.cnet.com/news/uber-air-f...CAD-03-10aaj8j
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Old September 27th, 2018, 04:46 AM
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Great article, thanks for sharing.

Regarding FAA regs, may be less onerous than anticipated. The use of camera drones for film and television has, erm, skyrocketed over the last several years and the FAA was surprisingly quick to require certification, knowledge of no-flight areas, etc, for non-aviator civilians. In fact, most producers won’t hire a drone operator without FAA ceritifications now. So it’s possible these regs for tiny, operated drones could lay the foundation for something like air-taxis in the near future.

But clearly the tech expense and possibly anemic customer base are the big hurdles.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Fovean View Post
But clearly the tech expense and possibly anemic customer base are the big hurdles.

Agreed. This is just going to result in more heliports and not people using a flying version of Uber or Lyft to get home from a nightclub.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 01:06 PM
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there are electric aircraft in the works that are car sized, with ducted fans instead of rotors. Those are unlikely to be heliport-limited.

And, until such become available, more heliports aren't likely; once they are, more heliports are unneeded.

We might see a return of the airships, tho', replacing helos for tourist flights. Electric zeppelins are now doable. Carbon fiber's lighter than aluminum for the strength, AND can contain helium directly, rather than requiring internal bags.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 01:15 PM
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there are electric aircraft in the works that are car sized, with ducted fans instead of rotors. Those are unlikely to be heliport-limited.

They're still not going to takeoff and land on city streets or in parking lots.

Call 'em heliports, call 'em LZs, call 'em whatever you want. They're still going to use specific designated areas for safety and flight control reasons. The app on your phone will call one to a nearby "heliport", but it won't call on to the curb outside the bar.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 02:20 PM
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They're still not going to takeoff and land on city streets or in parking lots.

Call 'em heliports, call 'em LZs, call 'em whatever you want. They're still going to use specific designated areas for safety and flight control reasons. The app on your phone will call one to a nearby "heliport", but it won't call on to the curb outside the bar.
Sorry, but I disagree vehemently. The consumer demand, once the availability is there, is going to be for curbside. And the FAA will get "informed" by the legislators to make it happen. (Much like Sport Pilot licensing - it wasn't the FAA's idea. Congress-critters told them to make it happen - at least according to late Sen. Ted Stevens - he didn't want to have to give up his license when he could no longer pass a flight physical. If you have a driver's license, you can get a sport pilot license. Did I mention I have spent several evenings drinking with Sen. Stevens.)

Plus, the guys making the aircar are also making it GPS & ladar autopilot-only, except for the last 15 feet of altitude. Also, nifty thing about thrust-lift - the last 10'-20' are the most efficient. Put turn signals on it, and drive it in ground effect, and it's the smoothest road-car around.

The primary reasons for heliports are that Rotors need extensive clearance both for operation and parking, and rotors are thunderously loud; ducted fans are far quieter, have a 0-clearance need, and are relatively quiet.

The airblast isn't all that bad, especially if it lands in street then pulls over while in ground effect. Add a plenum, and the outside air-blast is much reduced.

I don't know about elsewhere, but in Alaska one can actually get road-plates for a GEV. (I only know because I've seen them on one, going down the road in Kenai. Same kind of plates as snowmobiles.)

Uber's thing is a VTOL-plane - and that's going to need heliports, sure — noise factor alone, just like the V-22 Osprey — but once a personal air vehicle can land in a parking spot without waking up the neighborhood, political pressure will eliminate the heliport as a requirement.

Remember: it's rich and powerful folk who will be buying them, and they tend to get their political way in most systems.

The safety concessions might be an autopilot tied into central flight control. Essentially, FAA computer-run drones with passenger seats. The Chinese ehang passenger drone is already in use in China. 20 minutes/charge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCbGwxYiWug (company)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7Hm-rmLQcU (US NBC)
Not ducted, but duct those fans, you increase thrust and safety. (at a minor weight and hefty cost penalty)
NBC notes that Dubai is in fact going for a self-flying taxi service using these.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Sorry, but I disagree vehemently.
I wouldn't expect anything less from you.

The next time you're outside in an actual urban area, look up. Look at all the wires running between all the telephone poles. Look at the height of the buildings. Look at how close they are to each other.

The places with the population and "money" density necessary to support such a service already have a very crowded air space. Crowded not only by other users, but physical objects too. Buildings are close together, have multiple stories, and create vortexes when the wind blows. VTOL or not, you are not going to be landing any sort of aircraft in that.

This service isn't going to be carrying people in West Cheddar, Vermont or East Walrus, Alaska. It's going to be carrying people in NYC, Tokyo, Shanghai, and the like. It's going to carrying people where preexisting density has created the gridlock the vehicles are meant to bypass.

Hell, Uber's own press release shows the vehicles using dedicated pads instead of curbside service. Who are we to second guess them?
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Old September 27th, 2018, 05:18 PM
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LA, Detroit-metro, San Diego, Anchorage, Portland, Seattle/Tacoma - all of these have VAST spans of low-height buildings. With VTOL, you only need your clearance vertically for TO/L. Fly up, Fly over, drop down.

Those wires are not a big issue, and in the downtown areas, the wiring is mostly underground, not elevated, anyway. In Portland, Seattle/Tacoma, and Detroit-metro, the biggest issue is the overhanging trees in the neighborhoods. To which the solution is slightly more complex:
taxi to the intersection, take off straight up, fly over the top of the buildings (the already required outside TO/L is 500' AGL (150m), fly to the nearest intersection, hover over the intersection (say, 50m/165'), trigger the demand switch (probably using a directional radio - cost about $50, but will be charged $5000 because it's for an aircraft; receivers will be charged about $1000 because government, probably paid for by license fees on the triggers), then taxi in ground effect to the driveway.

Infrastructure costs for adding a directional radio receiver, or even a ladar trigger, are MUCH lower than adding heliports.

The combination of cost, and demand... and that the business model is being worked on for a curb-to-curb air taxi in greater Portland, and that the wealthy neighborhoods will be the only ones needing it at first... and those tend to be less visible wiring...

There's no economic sense in heliports everywhere, and Uber's going to run into that as soon as it starts looking for places to build heliports. Tall buildings are not the easiest things to land on (ships at sea seem to be, but for the same reasons but flopped relative importance - constant motion and unsteady airflow), and if they weren't built for a helipad, the structural modifications will be expensive. And the Heliports everywhere has to still do the same vertical issues.

Now, in Anchorage, downtown is almost all 2-lanes (12') plus two parking-lanes (8'), where it isn't 3 lanes plus 2 parking lanes (5th & 6th ave). so we're looking at 40' to 52' of above road. The sidewalks are another 8' (4' minimum each side, some areas 6'), and the limit on new construction is 3 stories — by law, not just zoning regulations — and the old construction has at least 50' clearance. Not an issue in downtown for helicopters to fly between the buildings (the police and news do so not too infrequently).
Portland has likewise similar 50'-500' AGL having 50' side-to-side in downtown. (Yes, I've looked up in downtown Portland.)

Smaller cities like Albany, Corvallis, and Eugene, Oregon, all have plenty of spaces open enough to transition from flight to taxi-in-ground-effect. Just add the needed turn signals and brake lights (triggered by the laser altimeter detecting a slowdown in transverse speed), and you're good to go.

Mind you, Uber's design looks like a medium haul - say, 30-200 km trips. Short haulers are going to look more like a sports car, less like a plane, and be the 20-40 km range. (treble that for gasoline, in both cases.)
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Old September 27th, 2018, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
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... heliports everywhere...

I never should have used that term because you can't look past it.

No heliports. Designated landing/takeoff areas like the taxicab stands of old.

And Detroit? There will be people in Detroit using the service? I don't think a flying car service is going to take EBT...
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Old September 27th, 2018, 07:46 PM
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I like the Cyberpunk term aerodyne. Likely won't happen but that's my vote.
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