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IN THE NEWS


VERTICAL AEROSPACE FLYING TAXI TO BE TRIALLED IN TWO YEARS


Flying taxis could be taking to the skies in the UK as soon as 2023 after the pro- ject recently won government backing. Vertical Aerospace has become the first company in the UK to build and flight test the vertical take-off and landing, drone-style aircraft. This is Local London reports that the project has received a £2.5million grant on 27 January to undertake a feasibility study, and those behind the idea say tri- als could begin in just two years’ time. Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, believes the UK could become a world leader in “air taxis”.


James Richmond, an expert on “advanced air mobility” said the new technology could be a reality by 2023. He said: “As we look to the future of travel, it’s now more important than ever that we begin exploring more sus- tainable methods of transport within


our increasingly populated cities. “Bringing together the experience and expertise from across the consortium, we’re excited to begin developing a fully integrated system concept, using the latest digital innovations. “This is an important and tangible step towards making advanced air mobility a reality, and by demonstrating that we can provide a case for air taxis, we


could begin trialling these services as early as 2023.” The electric Vertical Take-Off and Land- ing (eVTOL) aircraft, dubbed the VA-1X, has a 15-metre wingspan and is 13 metres in length, and will be able to cruise at impressive speeds of up to 150 miles/hour with a range of 100 miles. This means that passengers could trav- el from London to Brighton in approximately 30 minutes. Best of all, the flying taxi will be pow- ered by a lithium-ion battery, meaning it will be entirely emission free. While you might worry that a ride would come with a hefty price tag, thankfully Vertical Aerospace reassures that this shouldn’t be the case. “Prices for air taxi services are initially expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car, and will decrease as adoption grows.”


ELECTRIC TAXI PODS TO LAUNCH INSTEAD OF LINCOLN TUK TUKS


A zero emission pod taxi service will launch in Lincoln in April, replacing plans for fuel-based tuk tuks going up and down the hill which leads to Lin- coln Cathedral. According to The Lincolnite, the city council’s licensing committee voted to allow tuk tuks in the city last August after owner of Holla, Christine Kimbrell, convinced them to change the policy with her proposals. She said the only negative feedback she received from the council was that they weren’t electric, so she went back to the drawing board and changed her proposal to three electric Zbee vehicles. The latest application was approved by the city council’s licensing committee on Wednesday evening 20 January. The usual licensing requirements for a vehicle to have an engine capacity of not less than 1297cc and at least four


58


seats were removed. Extra conditions were imposed includ- ing giving a list of drivers’ names to the council and, although a spare tyre will not be required on the vehicle, it will be necessary to always have one in stock. Christine found the Zbee car was being run really well as a taxi and delivery ser- vice in Sweden. She went to Stockholm to test drive the vehicle before pur- chasing a fleet of three at £10,000 each, which she now has in Lincoln.


The vehicles will operate in a three-mile radius of Lincoln and seat up to two passengers. Christine is already looking at extend- ing the originally planned 10-15 stops so there will be less limit for customers, but the price per journey is still being finalised. However, she is confident that it will be cheaper than other city taxis and will be done on a per metre basis. Christine told The Lincolnite: “We are so excited. We are now a step closer to carbon neutral. We will be the first in the UK to have a zero emission pod taxi service.” Christine hopes to expand to 15 vehicles by the end of the year, by which time she hopes to have employed 15-20 staff. She already has a premises located behind Tesco on Wragby Road and work is ongoing to finalise the website and app and other finishing touches.


FEBRUARY 2021


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