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Legacy automaker General Motors, under intense pressure to innovate as the automotive world shifts to electric vehicles, unveiled a Cadillac “personal drone” concept Tuesday along with numerous other EVs across its existing brands and a new business unit, BrightDrop, to sell electric delivery vehicles including vans and pallets.
The design of the Cadillac passenger drone failed to impress eVTOL.com staff, appearing years behind the automaker’s potential competitors in terms of aerodynamics and efficiency. A single-seat quadcopter, the aircraft is intended to signal “a vision of the future where personal air travel is possible,” according to GM, targeting speeds of up to 56 miles per hour (90 kilometers per hour) for rooftop-to-rooftop travel with a 90 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. No other details about the aircraft design were revealed.
Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society, told eVTOL.com the design looks very heavy for a single-seat aircraft — much too heavy for a 90-kWh battery. Its landing gear shows little consideration for landing forces, impact absorption and crashworthiness, he added, and the aircraft’s lower ducts are much too close to the ground with too much surface area around them, which may cause suction instead of thrust.
“It’s a drawing, and not much more,” Hirschberg said. “So, we’re trying to interpret artwork.”
In addition to poor design elements, GM’s decision to opt for a personal flying vehicle — the company’s online exhibit for the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show presents visitors with a QR code to envision the aircraft (and other new EVs) in their driveway — makes little sense, especially combined with the site’s description of vehicle as traveling “rooftop to rooftop.” Given the practical, regulatory and cost hurdles involved with enabling true personal door-to-door flight, most serious eVTOL players have abandoned the concept for a more service-oriented model, with many embracing ride-sharing principles to improve affordability.
Until test flights are a regular occurrence guessing how something will do during flight is premature. We need to test everything and not just be making concept VTOLs. We are beyond concept air vehicles and need to test them before we show off what a company might make. Once the public knows that eVOTLs are happening the mad rush to get the best ones will begin and this will be a multi-billion dollar industry in the next 3 years!
GM will partner and eventually buy an eVTOL company. Just like they acquired Cruise Automation. This eVTOL concept was meant as click bait and to raise GM’s share price. It’s been successful. There are lots of GM flying car articles this week. Mary Barra needs GM’s share price to go up, and she is learning from Elon. Sell the future today, and deliver it tomorrow.
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