eVTOLs and the Evolution of Flying Cars in Our Future
The realization of vehicles roaming the sky may be closer than it seems.
Ever since I saw the Weasley's enchanted Ford Anglia take to the skies in the Harry Potter series, I've been completely captivated by the idea of flying cars. The sight of that pale blue car soaring above the clouds, effortlessly defying gravity, sparked an obsession in me that's only grown over time.
The concept of eVTOLs, or electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, brings that childhood fascination into the realm of possibility.
Now, besides the experience of zooming around in the air, there are several reasons that eVTOLs are being researched heavily.
Efficiency: eVTOLs could potentially reduce travel time significantly by avoiding traffic and taking more direct routes.
Environmental Impact: As they are electric, eVTOLs could help reduce the carbon emissions associated with traditional modes of transport.
Accessibility: eVTOLs have the potential to improve connectivity in remote or difficult-to-reach areas.
Innovation: The development of eVTOLs could stimulate technological advancements in many related fields, such as battery technology, materials science, and aviation safety.
Economic Potential: There's a growing market demand for personal and commercial aerial transport solutions, making eVTOLs an attractive investment for businesses and governments.
Urban Mobility: With advancements in noise reduction technology, eVTOLs could become a viable solution for improving urban mobility without contributing to noise pollution.
2001: NASA begins work on the Greased Lightning Project, a key development in VTOL technology.
2005: The DARPA VTOL X-Plane program launches to explore innovative cross-coupling of technologies in unique configurations to improve vertical and cruising flight capabilities radically.
2014: The first successful test of distributed electric propulsion (DEP), a key technology in eVTOLs, occurs.
2016: Improvements in sensor technology enable better stabilization systems for eVTOLs.
2020: Advancements in materials science lead to lighter, stronger airframes for eVTOLs.
2021: Progress in noise reduction technology for eVTOLs makes them more suitable for urban environments.
One of the largest factors limiting eVTOLs from being everywhere is the energy source: batteries.
Amongst a list of other issues, scientists haven't quite figured out how to regulate battery morphology.
The Definition of Morphology
The goal is to simultaneously optimize high-specific energy and power while maintaining a low weight. However, due to disparate data collection methods, researchers are still working to consolidate the puzzle.
At the forefront of advancing battery technology are advanced characterization methods that enable us to look inside. While combining computational methods, such as machine learning models, we are understanding what it takes to grow a flat bed of lithium.
Concurrently, research focuses on refining material selection through generative AI, which reduces the experimental search.
Nonetheless, we are working towards a greener future, but we'll need to sequence the battery's genome before we get there.