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  • I love airplanes.

  • Oh -- I love airplanes.

  • So, when I went to college in the late 90s,

  • it was obvious that I was going to study aerospace.

  • And you wouldn't believe how many people told me,

  • "Oh no, not aerospace.

  • Aerospace is going to be boring,

  • everything in aerospace has already been done."

  • Well, they were a little bit off the mark.

  • And in fact, I think the next decade

  • is going to be another golden age for aviation.

  • For one thing, and this is where I get excited,

  • flight is about to get a lot more personal.

  • So, a little compare and contrast.

  • In the last century,

  • large commercial airplanes have connected cities across the globe.

  • And 100 years ago,

  • it would have been unthinkable for all of us

  • to fly here from around the world for a five-day conference.

  • But we did, and most of us probably without a second thought.

  • And that's a remarkable achievement for humanity.

  • But on a day-to-day basis, we still spend a lot of time in cars.

  • Or actively trying to avoid it.

  • Some of my best friends live in San Francisco,

  • I live in Mountain View, about 40 miles away.

  • We're all busy.

  • At the end of the day,

  • we're separated by something like two hours of heavy traffic.

  • So frankly, we haven't seen each other in a few months.

  • Now, I work in downtown San Jose, which is near the airport.

  • And there are actually days when I can leave work,

  • get on a plane and fly to Los Angeles

  • faster than I can drive to San Francisco.

  • Cities are only getting more populated,

  • the roads are full, and it's really difficult to expand them.

  • And so in a lot of places,

  • there really aren't a lot of good solutions

  • for getting around traffic.

  • But what if you could fly over it?

  • The sky is underutilized,

  • and I would argue it will never be as congested as the roads are.

  • First of all, you've got a whole other dimension,

  • but also just safety considerations and air-traffic management

  • will not allow bumper-to-bumper traffic in the sky.

  • Which means, in many cases,

  • flying can be a long-term, compelling alternative

  • to traveling on the ground.

  • So imagine this:

  • you call an Uber, it takes you to a nearby landing spot --

  • we call these vertiports --

  • there's an airplane waiting for you there,

  • flies you over all of the traffic in the middle,

  • and on the other side, another Uber takes you to your friend's house.

  • And I said Uber,

  • but I really think we need to congratulate the Lyft branding team

  • for their forward thinking in choosing their brand.

  • (Laughter)

  • So in that example,

  • OK, there are a few extra steps, I admit.

  • But it's 30 minutes versus two hours,

  • it costs around 60 dollars,

  • and you get to fly.

  • We're not there yet,

  • but we are a lot closer than you might think.

  • So one of the first things we need

  • is we need an aircraft that can take off and land in small spaces

  • and quickly take you where you want to go.

  • And helicopters can do that today,

  • but traditionally, helicopters have been just a little bit too expensive,

  • just a little too hard to pilot

  • and just a little too noisy to be used for daily transportation in cities.

  • Well, electric flight and autonomy are changing that.

  • Electric flight, in particular,

  • unlocks new possibilities for vehicle configurations

  • that we just could not explore in the past.

  • If you use electric motors,

  • you can have many of them around the aircraft,

  • and it doesn't add a lot of extra weight.

  • And that gives you redundancy and safety.

  • And also, they are cleaner, cheaper and quieter

  • than internal combustion engines.

  • Autonomy allows the transportation network to scale,

  • and I actually think it makes the aircraft safer.

  • Commercial flights are already automated for most of their duration,

  • and I believe there will come a day

  • when we won't even trust an airplane that required a human to fly.

  • So, one of our teams at A3

  • wanted to see just how close this future really was.

  • So they built and flew a prototype of one such vehicle.

  • And they made a point of only using

  • mature, commercially available technologies today.

  • We call it Vahana.

  • It's fully electric.

  • It takes off and lands vertically, but flies forward like a regular airplane.

  • It's fully self-piloted.

  • You push a button, it takes off, flies and lands, all by itself.

  • The prototype that you see here

  • is designed to carry a single passenger and luggage.

  • And it can go about 20 miles in 15 minutes.

  • And our estimate for a trip like that is it would cost around 40 dollars,

  • which you can really build a business around.

  • It has multiple redundant motors and batteries,

  • you can lose one, it will continue flying and land normally.

  • It's pretty quiet.

  • When it's flying overhead, it will be quieter than a Prius on the highway.

  • It's intelligent and has cameras, lidar and radar,

  • so it can detect and avoid unexpected obstacles.

  • And the team really focused on making it efficient,

  • so the batteries are small, light, and they last longer.

  • For reference, the Vahana battery

  • is less than half the size of a Tesla Model S battery.

  • It's about 40 kilowatt-hours.

  • And you can hot swap the batteries in just a few minutes.

  • And I do think that in a few years,

  • people will be comfortable getting by themselves

  • in a self-piloted, electric, VTOL air taxi.

  • But the team is busy working on the next version,

  • which is going to carry at least two passengers

  • and fly quite a bit farther.

  • But more importantly, there are over 20 companies around the world

  • working on vehicles just like this one right now.

  • My best guess is in the next five years,

  • you'll start seeing vertiports in some cities,

  • and little airplane icons on your ride-sharing apps.

  • And it might begin with a dozen,

  • but eventually, we could have hundreds of these,

  • flying around our cities.

  • And it will fundamentally transform our relationship with local travel.

  • In the past century, flight connected our planet,

  • in the next, it will reconnect our local communities,

  • and I hope it will reconnect us to each other.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • Chris Anderson: OK, so when these things first roll out --

  • right now, it's a single person aircraft, right?

  • Rodin Lyasoff: Ours is, yes.

  • CA: Yours is.

  • I mean, someone comes out of their car,

  • the door opens, they get in, there's no one else in there.

  • This thing takes off.

  • Could we do a poll here?

  • Because these are early adopters in this room.

  • I want to know who here is excited

  • about the idea of being picked up solo in an auto-flying --

  • Well, there you go!

  • RL: It's pretty good.

  • CA: That is pretty awesome,

  • half of TED is completely stark staring bonkers.

  • (Laughter)

  • RL: So, one of the things we're really focusing on

  • is, really, the cost.

  • So you can really wrap a business around that.

  • And so, that's why some of the features are really driven by price.

  • And the 40-dollar price tag is really a target that we're aiming for.

  • Which should make it accessible to a larger crowd than this one.

  • CA: The biggest blockage in terms of when this rolls out

  • is probably not the technology at this point -- it's regulation, right?

  • RL: That's probably true, yes, I would agree with that.

  • The technology need to mature in terms of safety,

  • to get to the safety levels that we expect from aircraft.

  • But I don't think there are any blockers there,

  • just work needs to get done.

  • CA: So, first, this is ride sharing.

  • Are we that far away from a time

  • when lots of people have one of these in their garage

  • and just kind of, go direct to their friend's house?

  • RL: My personal view is that ride sharing actually allows you to operate

  • that entire business much more efficiently.

  • You know, there are millennials that say they never want to own a car.

  • I think they'll probably feel even stronger about aircraft.

  • So --

  • (Laughter)

  • I really think that the network scales and operates a lot better

  • as a ride-sharing platform,

  • also because the integration with air-traffic management

  • works a lot better if it's handled centrally.

  • CA: Cool. Thank you for that.

  • RL: Thank you. CA: That was amazing.

I love airplanes.

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【TED】Rodin Lyasoff: How autonomous flying taxis could change the way you travel (How autonomous flying taxis could change the way you travel | Rodin Lyasoff)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/07/20
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