British engineering powerhouse Rolls-Royce is the latest company to unveil plans for a flying taxi that could hit the skies by the early 2020s.
Rolls-Royce said it could be adapted for personal and public transport, logistics and military purposes based on technologies that already exist or are under development.
The firm is now looking for partners who can help with the air framing and electrical system to help bring the vehicle to market within the next few years.
It joins Airbus, Google and Uber fighting to create the world’s first flying taxi. Rolls Royce showed off its designs at the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday and, like its competitors, is planning to use electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicles to fulfil its vision.
“The initial concept vehicle uses gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors specially designed to have a low noise profile. It also has a battery for energy storage,” Rolls Royce said.
“In this hybrid-EVTOL configuration it could carry four or five passengers at speeds up to 250mph [402kph] for approximately 500 miles, would not require re-charging – as the battery is charged by the gas turbine – and would be able to utilise existing infrastructure such as heliports and airports,” it added.
Rolls Royce said it was part of its wider plans to better utilise electricity and meet the demands placed on conventional transport as cities grow and congestion increase.
Rob Watson, who heads up Rolls-Royce’s Electrical team, said: “Electrification is an exciting and inescapable trend across industrial technology markets and while the move to more electric propulsion will be gradual for us, it will ultimately be a revolution.”
“Building on our existing expertise in electric technologies and aviation, Rolls-Royce is actively exploring a range of possible markets and applications for electric and hybrid electric flight,” he added.
The race to populate the skies with autonomous transport solutions has gathered pace in the past year. In September, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority tested its flying prototype. This model is capable of transporting two passengers.