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The Spanish research and technology development center Tecnalia has unveiled a prototype electric air taxi featuring four articulating quadrotor drones mounted on arms extending from the cabin.
According to Joseba Lasa, head of Tecnalia’s Electric Aircraft Lab, this novel configuration — in which the drones move “independently but in a coordinated way” — allows the cabin to maintain its orientation regardless of speed. “This feature enhances the flying experience, providing a sensation similar to that of traveling by car or bus from a dynamic point of view,” he said.
Tecnalia recently demonstrated its prototype in flight in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain. Designed to transport one person or loads of up to 150 kilograms (330 pounds), the prototype has a cabin measuring 1.8 by two meters (six by 6.5 feet). It is designed to cover urban distances of up to 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) in 15 minutes, which the company said will cover the transport requirements of urban centers in 85 percent of the world’s cities.
While Tecnalia is initially a targeting a cruise speed of 90 km/h (55 mph), it said the aircraft’s architecture could allow speeds of up to 190 km/h. Agustín J. Sáenz, deputy director for Tecnalia’s Market division, added that the aircraft could be scaled from one to four passengers “depending on the integration demanded in each city and for each service.”