Cranfield University and partners are today presenting a new concept in personal air mobility for fast, efficient and congestion-free urban and inter-city air travel. Image:Cranfield University

Personal air mobility

Cranfield University and partners have presented a new concept in personal air mobility. They believe that it will offer fast, efficient and congestion-free urban and inter-city air travel.

The Volante Vision Concept is a partnership between Aston Martin, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Rolls-Royce. It previews a luxurious flying autonomous hybrid-electric vehicle. This will have vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities.

The concept uses expertise at Cranfield’s global research airport and couples it with Aston Martin’s signature design. It will be powered by Rolls-Royce hybrid-electric systems.

Director of Aerospace at Cranfield University, Professor Iain Gray, said:

“We’re delighted to be part of this exciting and forward-thinking project that showcases British innovation and the way that Cranfield works with and supports business.

“The Volante Vision Concept exemplifies Cranfield’s unique capabilities in digital aviation, autonomous systems and the electrification of aerospace, and is an excellent example of how the University combines cutting-edge research, academic rigour and real-world application.”

Autonomous flights to cut down comute time

Cranfield is leading work on the autonomous flight controls, connectivity and the security of the aircraft. Digital aviation research will support how the aircraft fits into the wider transportation ecosystem.

Aston Martin President and CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, said:

“With the population in urban areas continuing to grow, congestion in towns and cities will become increasingly demanding. We need to look at alternative solutions to reduce congestion, cut pollution and improve mobility.

“Humans have always spent on average, one hour commuting to and from work. The distance we live from our workplace has been determined by the methods of transportation available.

“The Volante Vision Concept will enable us to travel further with our hourly commute, meaning we are able to live further away from where we work.”

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) CEO, Paul Hutton, said:

“The introduction of autonomous and electric propulsion technologies into new aircraft designs is both inevitable and challenging, and as the UK’s leading aircraft design and production SME we are excited to be playing this key role in the Volante Vision Concept and so to be at the vanguard of this revolution in aerospace.”

Alternative transportation

Each partner of the Volante Vision Concept promises to offer an exciting alternative transportation solution for customers across the globe.

Director, Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, said:

“Rolls-Royce has already delivered hybrid-electric systems for other applications including ships and trains, and we’re very excited about the potential of the technology in aerospace.

“This is a great opportunity to collaborate on a pioneering project which will use high performance hybrid-electric propulsion technologies for personal air mobility concepts that could transform the future of transportation.”

The next phase of the project will focus on engineering and technical development. The aim is to work towards a full-size flying demonstrator prototype.