Gravity defying boats and airborne taxis – they sound like something you’d see in the latest Star Wars series, but they’re not just the stuff of make believe. As the transport and mobility industry around the world rallies to develop innovative, smart and sustainable transportation, we’re seeing the rise of a new breed of mobility solutions, and they’re taking to the skies.
Flying cars, better known as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, are widely considered a promising and viable future urban mobility solution. Quiet, efficient and carbon-emission free, these impressive machines are being developed by several established OEMs and startups. Battery technology advances and huge investments continue to fuel this burgeoning industry and experts say it won’t be long until we see thousands of eVTOL flying above our cities.
It’s not just urban mobility that’s getting an innovation boost either. High-speed, zero-emission boats that skim over the surface of the water are being touted as the future of passenger shipping. Soon, we could see ferries equipped with wing-like structures called hydrofoils, which enable them to gather speed, take off and literally levitate above the water. A recent study claims they will be 80% more efficient than traditional ferries.
Here is a glimpse into three mobility solution innovators we’re proud to work with who are leading the way with their own unique inventions:
- Vertical Aerospace: The UK aviation startup Vertical Aerospace hopes to be first to market with its innovative, winged eVTOL aircraft.
- Zuri: Czech startup Zuri wants to make air transportation more accessible and efficient. It is developing a hybrid VTOL passenger aircraft – a cross between a conventional airplane and a multicopter.
- MerConcept: This French offshore racing company MerConcept is not only breaking records with its new generation of racing “flying boats”. It has also opened an R&D lab focused on transferring its expertise and technology for the greater benefit of the global maritime industry.
As established OEMs and startups jostle to be the first to go from proof-of-concept stage to a fully certified vehicle, digital technology and specifically virtual twins play a key role in helping them to accelerate the product development lifecycle. Let’s take a look at how Vertical Aerospace, Zuri and MerConcept take advantage of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to get ahead:
The race to eVTOL certification
Vertical Aerospace is on course to launch the world’s first certified winged eVTOL with the VA-X4. This winged eVTOL is designed for inter- and intra-city travel and will carry five people, reaching cruise speeds of 150 mph or 240km per hour.
The company plans to certify and launch the final aircraft to market in 2024. To achieve this ambitious goal, it’s building the aircraft and defining all processes on the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform with the Reinvent the Sky industry solution experience. This gives Vertical Aerospace access to enterprise-level design, engineering and simulation software in a single, secure, standards-based environment.
Making air transportation more accessible
Zuri’s hybrid VTOL passenger aircraft combines wings for fast horizontal flight with electric motors that allow for vertical take-off and landing. The company’s aim is to change the way people fly over shorter distances. Instead of heading to a local airport, they book a journey with Zuri and take off from a remote spot in their hometown’s periphery or a skyscraper roof.
The company uses the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform with the Reinvent the Sky industry solution experience to develop its VTOL aircraft. A virtual experience twin connects engineers and suppliers together, giving key stakeholders complete visibility at every stage.
Reducing carbon impact at sea
Offshore racing specialist MerConcept built the Ultim trimaran SVR-LAZARTIGUE in two and a half years, using the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform’s Winning Bid for Sea industry solution to create a virtual twin of the boat and perform high-fidelity simulations to optimize the boat’s aerodynamics. The result: the boat literally flies over the surface of the water to reach speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour. MerConcept is now testing out its technology in other marine applications to demonstrate the potential of wind energy and foil propulsion.
“Foils allow boats to lift themselves above the water and gain power and speed,” said Thomas Normand, CEO of MerConcept. “We are working on equipping a ferry, which will carry between 100 and 200 people, with these foils. It will be able to fly above the water and cut its energy consumption by half. This type of project is likely to emerge in the coming years.”