As the developed countries advance towards devising better ways of transportation, India could also join the race soon. While tech giants like Google, Airbus, Uber, Volvo, and dozens others are working on driverless cars, a few among them, like UberAIR and Elon Musk's Boring Company and Hyperloop One, are taking the race to air or underground. In what can be good news for India, IIT-Kanpur this month signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) worth Rs 15 crore with VTOL Aviation India Pvt Ltd, an Indian private aviation company, to build operational prototypes, which would be used as flying taxis. Over 100 researchers from IIT-Kanpur would work on making a fully-functional prototype and the project would be completed by 2023. Though in India the technology is at early stage, it definitely has the potential to change the country's ever growing traffic problem, especially in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Project to be Completed in 5 Years
Under the deal, researchers will first conduct a feasibility test to identify key technological areas where they would work, and the rest of the project would be completed in the next five years. "We will establish proof of concept and identify the key technology areas. There will be over a 100 students working on this in the coming years," The Print quoted Ajoy Ghosh, the head of the Aerospace Engineering and the Flight Lab at IIT-Kanpur, as saying.
Besides, in a big boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, VTOL Aviation India has launched a project named 'VTOL AIR TAXI-Abhiyaan', as per which the company intends to make a new-age VTOL aircraft, which is designed to render its services as the most economical and fastest mode of transportation.
Flying Taxi to Use VTOL Technology
The researchers would work on the VTOL (Vertical take-off and Landing) technology, which is primarily used in making aircraft to take off and land vertically. The VTOL technology is used in two types of aircraft currently: fixed-wing aircraft and those with blades like helicopters, which are powered rotors such as cyclogyros and tiltrotors. The proposed 'flying taxi' would work on electric power, so the energy used in it would be completely clean. For better efficiency and endurance, IIT-Kanpur would also develop a hybrid propulsion system prototype.
Can it Revolutionise Transportation?
The technology, traditionally used in militaries across the world, is now being tested to revolutionise transportation. The benefits are immense: shorter trips, comfortable rides, pollution-free journey, and no traffic congestion. Flying taxis would provide "greater access to remote locations as well where today's transportation modes cannot reach, giving greater access to everyone to reach anywhere without restrictions", says VTOL Aviation India.
Can Flying Taxis be Used in India?
Once developed and fully-tested, its utilisation would require active participation from government as well as civic bodies as a new aviation policy on air traffic congestion would be needed, say experts. The technology would not only address traffic congestion problem in metro cities, but would also be useful in remote locations. The researchers would also develop the hybrid prototype, which would work on fuel and batteries. IIT-Kanpur's aerospace engineering department, having state-of-the art infrastructure, specialises in aerodynamics, flight mechanics, propulsion, etc. It has a unique flight laboratory with four powered aircrafts, four gliders, and a 1,000 metre runway.
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