Rolls-Royce has unveiled a concept electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle at the Farnborough International Airshow 2018. The design could be adapted for personal transport, public transport, logistics and military applications and is based upon technologies that already exist or are currently under development. It could take to the skies as soon as the early 2020s.
The Rolls-Royce EVTOL project is part of our strategy to ‘champion electrification’ and realise our ambition to become the world’s leading industrial technology company. It builds upon experience gained providing hybrid electric propulsion for trains, naval vessels and other applications, and our expertise in gas turbines, VTOL technology, systems analytics and aerospace regulation and certification. We would expect any commercial introduction of the EVTOL to involve working in collaboration with airframers and will seek a range of strategic partners for aspects of the electrical system.
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. In this hybrid-EVTOL configuration it could carry four or five passengers at speeds up to 250mph 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.
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. We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners.
“Rolls-Royce has a strong track record as pioneers in aviation. From developing the first turbo-prop and jet engines, to creating the world’s most efficient large civil aero-engine and vertical take-off and landing solutions, we have a very strong pedigree. As the third generation of aviation begins to dawn, it’s time to be pioneers yet again.”