The EV Industry | May 22, 2017

Redefining the "Day Trip": Electric Aircraft Are Closer to Reality Than You Think

Pasquale Romano


eVTOL Vehicles Will Charge at Vertiports

When ChargePoint started back in 2007, only a few hardcore enthusiasts were driving electric. We worked on making it easy to charge an EV anywhere before EVs became popular. Now that EVs are becoming a common sight on many roads, we’re looking to the next logical step in the evolution of electric mobility: the sky.

As transportation evolves, it extends the radius of where we can comfortably travel, letting us go much farther in far less time. It’s only possible to walk a few miles in an hour, horses can get us there a little faster and cars can drive dozens of miles fairly quickly. For somewhat more distant destinations or when we’re pressed for time, flying will soon become an important way to travel: saving time, reducing stress and giving us more choices about where we can go. It essentially redefines the term “day trip.”

The idea of hopping a quick flight to work might seem farfetched at the moment, but the right technology makes the “impossible” possible. Watching Star Trek in the 1960s, geeks like me saw a communicator device that could do things that seemed impossible. At the time it seemed crazy that someone could pick up a handheld device and talk to someone far far away… without a cord! Now, almost everyone carries a smartphone that can do more than the creators of Star Trek imagined. Similarly, many science fiction authors predicted flight as a common mode of transportation. We’re about to see that vision become a reality, extending our convenient travel radius immensely. This will have profound effects on everything from the real estate market to how far away a restaurant can be and still make for a memorable date night.

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles can turn a grueling hour-plus commute by car into a quick 15-minute hop in the air, saving time while reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Much like EVs 10 years ago, eVTOLs are close to becoming an everyday reality. It might not seem like it now, but soon we’ll be as accustomed to flying as we are to jumping in an Uber or a Lyft. Imagine booking a trip to a meeting that's 60 miles away in a major city. You might get picked up at home by an electric car, driven to a takeoff site, transported in the air to the nearest landing site and taken to your meeting by car. All of this will be done in one seamless booking with a convenient mobile app that will work just like the ones you already use to book a ride. eVTOLs will integrate into trips as simply one leg of the journey. Transportation and mobile technology working together will give us the option to live, work and play in more places.

By now, it’s clear to everyone that the future of transportation will be electric. It just makes sense: electric vehicles are simpler, more reliable and better for the environment, plus they accelerate faster and use fuel (electricity) that can be made from many sources. The same efficiency arguments that apply to EVs can be made for electrifying short-haul aircraft. Not having to store combustible fuel at urban takeoff and landing sites, lower noise levels and other advantages extend the number of places it makes sense to fly.

Just as we’ve come to rely on smartphones that once seemed “impossible” to manage our daily lives, we’ll soon come to rely on eVTOLs as a component of how we get around. Will you be on the first flight? If you’re not convinced yet that eVTOLs are coming, watch the Uber Elevate Summit (here’s my presentation) or check out our partnership with Uber Elevate.

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