Central regions | Technology & innovation

Testing of flying taxis begins in Moscow

21 Jan '21
Testing of Hover taxi drones - drones capable of delivering passengers and cargo by air - has begun on the Luzhniki grounds.

The purpose of the tests is to ensure the possibility of flying over the city in 2023-2025. Constant work on the safety of taxi drones will make it possible to massively use such aircraft and will make Moscow one of the first megacities where a public air taxi service operates on a regular basis.

The tests took place with a closed arena - passenger drone flights are still prohibited in Moscow. But the founder of the Hover project, inventor and businessman Alexander Atamanov, says that the Moscow government will open such a site in Skolkovo by the spring, and then Hover drones-taxis can be seen in the sky of the capital. The site will be provided with 5G coverage for testing and debugging a digital centralized control system for drones, a necessary condition for flying in a metropolis. The system plots optimal routes for air taxi, monitors flight safety and completely excludes a person from the air taxi control process.

Atamanov's project is very different from competitors - Hover takes off and sits in standard parking lots, it does not need to build additional takeoff and landing infrastructure. Another important difference is that there are no uncovered rotating screws. Atamanov's projects were created according to a propeller-free scheme. Instead of propellers, Hoversurf uses units of electric fans in annular fairings made using EDF (Electric Ducted Fan) technology. This solution can greatly reduce weight and design complexity. The main problem with an EDF fan is low efficiency. However, Atamanov's company managed to increase it to the level of a classic propeller: they changed the annular fairing, cutting through additional air intake slots in it. Thanks to the Venturi effect, the efficiency has risen to an acceptable level. Such a power plant is Atamanov's know-how.

During the tests, a pre-production prototype flew, in which the Venturi propellers were used only for level flight, and the lifting force was provided by traditional propellers. However, when the final samples of the Hover are ready in the spring, we will see a propeller-free version. The current prototype is testing the duplication of critical aircraft systems. We are testing the Lift & Cruise flight mode (when different groups of engines are responsible for takeoff / landing and horizontal flight), the functioning of the firing parachute to rescue the drone and the crew at ultra-low altitudes. The rescue system for Hover was developed and supplied by the Kazan company MVEN, one of the world leaders in such solutions.
We have collected a lot of data that will help us move faster towards our dream of accelerating the transportation revolution in the capital. It is very cool that the Moscow Government supports us in every possible way in this regard. Our common goal is to transform Moscow into a city of the future, where movement will be possible without traffic jams and traffic lights, and where the saved time can be spent on various pleasant things. The beginning of the massive use of taxi drones as part of the city's transport infrastructure will be another proof that everything is possible with the help of technology, says Alexander Atamanov.

In the current version of the Hover, the safety problem is solved - in the first versions, the propellers were not covered by anything, creating problems for passengers, says Dmitry Peskov, director of the Russian Venture Company (RVC) who was present during the tests. Engines for horizontal flight have appeared, which increases efficiency.
Some competitors use a tiltrotor scheme - solutions implemented using rotary motors, which greatly complicates and increases the cost of the design. Hover looks preferable against their background. Atamanov's company is very well moving forward, eliminating the childhood diseases of the original variants.

It is assumed that the first serial Hovers will be produced in 2021.
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