Future Trends: Urban Air Mobility UAM

Aircraft designers, automakers, and tech companies are designing vehicles for the future, and it is called: Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and VTOL.

Yes, the flying car is real and a flying taxi is on it’s way to a city near you around 2025 or so.

A new era in air travel will be begin around 2025, and it is called Urban Air Mobility, or UAM. Traffic congestion in a overpopulated urban area requires a new method for efficient mobility. High-density urban cities are three dimensional, and our current transportation system is two-dimensional. The vision of UAM is that everyone can have safe and efficient air transportation where everything from small package delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis will be operating in the skies above populated areas.

A convergence of large amounts of technologies, some not traditionally associated with aviation, and new business models are emerging, enabled by the digital revolution. Businesses are now able to explore what’s required to create this new method of transportation to safely move people and cargo in the most challenging environment – a densely populated city. Electric Vertical and Take Off (eVTOL) and Landing is the most desirable design at this time. Air travel is currently much safer than ground travel. The first UAM VTOL aircraft will most likely have a pilot, then later designs either combining virtual pilot, remote control, semi-autonomy and full autonomy would be the desired state.

Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL)  is an aircraft that has the ability to take off and land vertically. A STOL is Short Take Off and Landing aircraft requires a short runway, ski jump or ramp. Generally, a VTOL aircraft needs the ability to hover. Helicopters are not considered under the VTOL classification as the classification is only used for airplanes, aircraft that achieve lift force in forward flight by planing the air, thereby achieving speed and that is typically greater than the capability of helicopters.

VTOL – Thrust Vectoring Design

Thrust vectoring diverts the thrust from the engine or motors to control the altitude or angular velocity of the vehicle. Examples are the Kestrel, Harrier, Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. VTOL consumes so much fuel that it significantly reduces the flight time. Interestingly, the Harrier is incapable of vertical take-off with a full tank of fuel and a fully loaded weapons system. Therefore a runway/ski jump is required at the beginning of the mission.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft.

Two engines work together for vertical lift. The rear jet engine diverts the thrust (thrust vectoring). Hatches open behind the cockpit for the 2nd vertical engine. Horizontal stability is achieved by diverting some of the thrust to nozzles under the wings.

Lockheed Martin F-35 thrust vectoring example.

VTOL: Tilt-Rotor design

Tilt-rotor thrust vectoring uses actuated rotors to produces thrust and steering. The best example of this is the V-22 Osprey.

Top 10 Challenges for UAM:
  1. Safety.
  2. Automated air traffic control.
  3. Security.
  4. Battery / Fuel Cell technology.
  5. Distance and use cases.
  6. Affordability & Maintenance.
  7. VTOL Ports: Vertiports and Heliport infrastructure.
  8. Audible and visual noise.
  9. Autonomous flying, no need for a pilot’s license.
  10. Certification.
  11. Laws and regulations.
VTOL Drone-like designs: eHang
eHang (Drone design UAV) – this thing looks great, however the rotor blades are too close to the operator. One mishap and rotor blades injure or kill the passengers and/or pilot. The other issue is the small bubble, which does not look durable or can get through bad weather and debris. The rotor blades should be above the the passenger pod.
Vertical Aerospace Seraph
Vertical Aerospace (Drone Design UAV) | Seraph | Flight 2019 www.vertical-aerospace.com Watch the flight footage of Vertical Aerospace’s Seraph

Audi Airbus Ital Design

Audi + Airbus (All-in-one Drone / Skateboard / BEV)- Looks expensive! What is the need to have an all-in-one electric vehicle? You see the people still having to walk around and they flew in from another aircraft. The pod looks way too small and the rotors most likely should be much larger. The skateboard design looks very small like a golf cart. Maybe this could replace golf carts! To fix this design, the architecture of the city and the buildings needs to interact with the the UAV such as docking, charing and re-fueling.

Bell Nexus concept

Bell Air Taxi passenger compartment module.

Bell Nexus 4EX VTOL concept

Hyundai Uber S-A1 eVTOL concept

Hyundai Uber S-A1 eVTOL concept

Uber Elevate VTOL concept

Uber Elevate

Cormorant IDF VTOL

Cormorant IDF is a unique design and seems more vehicle like and not the drone or typical aircraft design.

Porsche + Boeing Design

This design appears to look the most promising, combining rotor blades with the architecture of a conventional airplane. The lift rotors will most likely have sliding doors to improve forward thrust. The renderings show a jet aircraft, however the patent drawings show the rear engines as a tilt rotor.

Porsche patent drawings

This design concept is cross between a tilt rotor for vertical take off and then tilt for forward thrust. This is a superior design in all areas, resembling a traditional aircraft incorporating the technology for short vertical takeoffs and the capability for vertical takeoff. The engine intake is on the underside front fuselage with what appears to be shut-off dampers for aerodynamics. The wings have built-in rotors and are most likely a tilt-rotor design. The end of the wings have a vertical stabilizer which most likely doubles as landing gear and horizontal balance and stability. The aircraft features four vertical lift engines with at least two that are articulating. Two engines will be for thrust and the only vectoring looks to be for the intake. My best guess that the engines are actually fan-jets and not propellers.

Lilium Jet

Lilium vertical take off aircraft – This UAV looks more like an aircraft and appears to be safer than the drone design.

Urban Air Mobility UAM Explained and why there will be a need in the future. an informative video by NASA:

The link below is NASA’s vision for Urban Air Mobility (UAM):

https://www.nasa.gov/uam

History of VTOL:

Most of the history of VTOL aircraft were experiments or outright failures from the 1950s to 1970s. Successful VTOL aircraft types that have been produced in large numbers include the F-35B Lightning IIHarrierYak-38 Forger and V-22 Osprey.

History of failed Vertical Landing and Takeoff (VTOL) vehicles.

The purpose of this article is to establish a baseline of ideas and concepts to begin the research needed for exploring UAM technology and it’s importance to major industries around the world. This is a new emerging industry and many new opportunities will be there for generations. This is a future trend that is very interesting and highly technical.

True Story by Rob Bodnar at robbodnar.com 2/17/2020.

1950’s Firebird Concept Cars

Harvey J. Earl and his “Dream Cars” in 1958.
Harley Earl of General Motors called them “Dream Cars” what he invented was the idea of the “concept car” between 1950-1959. He designed futuristic forward thinking innovations. GM and Harvey Earl predicted auto pilot, navigation, computers, cameras, video display, retractable headlights, cup holders, four wheel disc brakes, turbine motors, and numerous other innovations in the 1950’s. Here is the true story.

1953 Firebird I Concept Car

The 1954 XP-21 Firebird I was the first gas turbine automobile ever to be built and tested in the United States. Designed strictly as an engineering and styling exercise, Firebird I was intended to determine whether the gas turbine could be used as an efficient and economical powerplant for future vehicles.

1953 Firebird I Concept Car: GM Heritage Center, Sterling Heights Michigan.

The General Motors Firebird concept cars of the 1950’s were prototype cars that General Motors engineered and built for the 1953, 1956, and 1959 for the Motorama auto shows. The car designer, Harley Earl, took his inspiration from the innovations in fighter aircraft design at the time. General Motors never intended the cars for production, but rather to showcase the extremes in technology and design that the company was able to achieve.

1953 Firebird I Concept Car: GM Heritage Center, Sterling Heights Michigan.

By 1953, the GM research team had produced the Firebird XP-21, later referred to as the Firebird I, which was essentially a jet airplane on wheels. It was the first gas turbine-powered car tested in the United States. The design is entirely impractical, with a bubble canopy over a single-seat cockpit, a bullet-shaped fuselage made entirely of fiberglass, short wings, and a vertical tail fin. It has a 370 hp (280 kW) Whirlfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine, which has two speeds, and expels jet exhaust at some 1,250 °F (677 °C). The entire weight of the car is 2,500 lb (1,134 kg), with a 100-inch wheelbase.

1953 Firebird I Concept Car: GM Heritage Center, Sterling Heights Michigan.

At first, Conklin was the only person qualified to drive the Firebird I, and he tested it up to 100 mph (160 km/h), but upon shifting into second gear the tires lost traction under the extreme engine torque and he immediately slowed down for fear of crashing. Race car driver Mauri Rose later test drove the car at the Indianapolis Speedway. GM never actually intended to test the power or speed potential of the gas turbine, but merely the practical feasibility of its use. The braking system differs from standard drum systems, in that the drums are on the outside of the wheels to facilitate fast cooling and the wings actually have aircraft-style flaps for slowing from high speed.

Firebird I: Skateboard-like design chassis and power train.

The 1953 XP-21 Firebird 1 was the first gas turbine automobile ever to be built and tested in the United States. Designed strictly as an engineering and styling exercise, Firebird 1 was intended to determine whether the gas turbine could be used as an efficient and economical powerplant for future vehicles.

The idea for Firebird I originated with Harley J. Earl, the legendary GM Styling Vice President, who also designed the car’s aircraft-inspired fiberglass-reinforced plastic body. The engine, termed “Whirlfire Turbo-Power,” was developed under the direction of Charles L. McCuen, then general manager of GM Research Laboratories Division.

Unlike a jet airplane, which develops thrust through the action of exhaust gas through a tailcone, the Whirlfire Turbo-Power engine propelled the Firebird 1 through a power turbine acting on the rear wheels via a transmission. The engine was capable of 370 hp at a power turbine speed of 13,000 rpm.

The idea for Firebird I originated with Harley J. Earl, the legendary GM Styling Vice President, who also designed the car’s aircraft-inspired fiberglass-reinforced plastic body. The engine, termed “Whirlfire Turbo-Power,” was developed under the direction of Charles L. McCuen, then general manager of GM Research Laboratories Division.

Unlike a jet airplane, which develops thrust through the action of exhaust gas through a tailcone, the Whirlfire Turbo-Power engine propelled the Firebird I through a power turbine acting on the rear wheels via a transmission. The engine was capable of 370 horsepower at a power turbine speed of 13,000 rpm.

Every surface of the vehicle was refined in the California Institute of Technology wind tunnel, one of the first examples of the application of aerodynamic theories to automobile vehicle design. The negative angle of attack of the wings and the 6-square-foot area of the tail fin were all optimized through this ground-breaking work.

Wheelbase: 100.0 in (254.00 cm)

Weight: 2800.00 lbs (1,270.06 kg)

Engine: Single Stage, Axial Flow Turbine, 370 horsepower @ 26,000 rpm

Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy

The Harley J. Earl Trophy is named after General Motors car designer Harley Earl. Earl, the second commissioner of NASCAR, was the designer of the Chevrolet Corvette; his Firebird I concept car provides the basis of the automobile that sits atop the trophy; The car is often misidentified as Sir Malcolm Campbell‘s “Blue Bird” land speed record car. Earl was a friend of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., who named the trophy after him as a sign of respect.

A miniature version of the Firebird I crowns the Harley J. Earl Trophy, given annually to every winner of the Daytona 500.

1956 Firebird II Concept Car

1956 Firebird II Concept Car. GM Heritage Center, Sterling Heights Michigan.

The second concept car, the Firebird II of 1956, was a more practical design: a four-seat, family car. It is a low and wide design with two large air intakes at the front, a high bubble canopy top, and a vertical tail fin. Its exterior bodywork is made entirely of titanium (which turned out to be hard to make). The engine output is 200 hp (150 kW). To solve its exhaust heat problem, the car feeds the exhaust through a regenerative system, which allows the entire engine to operate cooler around 1,000 °F (538 °C), and also powers the accessories. Kerosene was the most common fuel used. Another innovation on the car is the first use of disc brakes on all four wheels, along with a fully independent suspension. It also featured a sophisticated guidance system intended for use with “the highway of the future,” where an electrical wire embedded in the roadway would send signals that would help guide future cars and avoid accidents.

Specifications

  • GM internal code: XP-43
  • Wheelbase: 120 in (3,048 mm)[6]
  • Length; 234.7 in (5,961 mm)[6]
  • Ground clearance: 5.5 in (140 mm)

The four-passenger Firebird II was characterized by innovations like a titanium body, a regenerative gas turbine, all-wheel independent suspension with automatic load-leveling, power disc brakes, alternator, magnetic ignition key, electric gear selection, and individually-controlled air conditioning.

The Firebird II had forward thinking features such as retractable head-lamps with rectangular lenses, pivoting directional signals, air flaps on the hood to vent engine and deflect bugs, a magnetic door key and a luggage compartment raised and lowered by remote control.

Some interesting interior features included a beverage cooler and outlet, retractable seat belts, reclining airplane-type seats, electronic adjustable headrests, ventilated seat cushions and a picnic table. The Firebird II also included a viewing screen for engine information, communication with the traffic “tower” and TV programs. A second screen replaced the rear-view mirror. A sophisticated guidance system or electronic auto-control was intended to be used with ‘the highway of the future.’ It utilized an electric wire, embedded into a roadway, to send signals to guide future cars and avoid accidents. This concept is the forerunner to self-driving cars, first seen by Motorama attendees 65 years ago.

The 1956 Motorama movie [1] projected a future that contrasted with the (1956) present. In that present, a nuclear family of hot and perspiring convertible occupants are attempting to travel to the beach—but they are stuck, immobile, trapped in an insufferable freeway traffic jam. In a flashforward to the future, they are cruising at high speed in air conditioned comfort along an automated freeway (with no other vehicles to be seen) in their turbine-powered Firebird. The movie’s concept (now more than fifty years old) was that this future was not unreasonably remote, and General Motors would provide it—and yet it is consistent with current projections (2008) for future automotive travel using electronic vehicle control and improved highway infrastructure.

The Firebird II concept car of 1956, is a four-seat, family car. It is a low and wide design with two large air intakes at the front, a high bubble canopy top, and a vertical tail fin. Its exterior bodywork is made entirely of titanium The engine output is 200 hp (150 kW). To solve its exhaust heat problem, the car feeds the exhaust through a regenerative system, which allows the entire engine to operate nearly 1,000 °F (538 °C), and also powers the accessories. Kerosene was the most common fuel used. Another innovation on the car is the first use of disc brakes on all four wheels, along with a fully independent suspension. It also featured a sophisticated guidance system intended for use with “the highway of the future,” where an electrical wire embedded in the roadway would send signals that would help guide future cars and avoid accidents.

1959 Firebird III Concept Car

1956 Firebird III Concept Car

GM built the third design, the Firebird III, in 1958 and debuted it at Motorama in 1959. It is another extravagant concept with a fiberglass body and no fewer than seven short wings and tail fins (which were tested extensively in a wind tunnel). It is a two-seater powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine, with a two-cylinder 10 hp (7.5 kW) gasoline engine to run all the accessories. Its exterior design features a double-bubble canopy and technical advancements to make it more practical, such as cruise controlanti-lock brakes, and air conditioning. It also featured “Space-Age” innovations, such as special air drag brakes like those found on aircraft, which emerged from flat panels in the bodywork of the car to slow it from high speeds; an “ultra-sonic” key that signaled the doors to open; an automated guidance system to help avoid accidents; and “no hold” steering. The driver controlled the steering with a joystick positioned between the two seats.[7] This gave the car a more futuristic feel and simulated the experience of flying a plane.

Specifications

  • GM internal code: XP-73
  • Wheelbase: 119 in (3,023 mm)[8]
  • Length: 248.2 in (6,304 mm)
  • Height: 44.8 in (1,138 mm) (canopy top)[8]
  • Ground clearance: 5.3 in (135 mm)

1964 Firebird IV Concept Car

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/gm-vehicle-collection/1956_Firebird_II.html

True Story… authored by Rob Bodnar at robbodnar.com 01/30/2020

Legends: Harley J. Earl

Harley J. Earl (November 22, 1893 – April 10, 1969) was an American automotive designer and business executive. He is known as the inventor of the Chevrolet Corvette and eventually became the the head of design at General Motors, later becoming vice president. He is credited as the first person to “design” the first automobile that was not just engineered. He was most likely the first industrial designer and a pioneer of modern transportation design.

Harley Earl pioneered the use of free-form sketching and hand sculpted clay models as an automotive design techniques. He subsequently introduced the “concept car” as both a tool for the design process and a clever marketing device. He is best known as the father of the Chevrolet Corvette, and introduced the “tail-fin” tail lights.

He is remembered as the first styling chief in the United States automobile industry, the originator of clay modeling of automotive designs, the wraparound windshield, the hardtop sedan, factory two-tone paint, and tailfins. He said in 1954, “My primary purpose for twenty-eight years has been to lengthen and lower the American automobile, at times in reality and always at least in appearance.” The extremely low and long American cars of the 1960s and 1970s show the extent to which Earl influenced an entire industry and culture.

During his heyday spanning the 1930s to the late ’50s, Earl created innovations that were decades ahead of their time:-Rear backup cameras connected to dashboard video, an automated driving system, collision warning alarms, cruise control, keyless entry, onboard computers, and rain-sensing technology. Earl was the first, say experts, to meld car style with functionality.

Harley Earl 1938 Y-Job and 1951 Buick LeSabre.

Chevrolet Corvette Generation #1: 1953-1962

  • Harley Earl – Designer
  • Tom Keating – GM Design Leader
  • Ellis James Primo – Body Engineer
  • Zora Arkus-Duntov – Performance Engineer

The first generation of the Chevrolet Corvette (C1) was produced from 1953-1962 and is known as the “solid-axle” generation. The name Corvette was named after a class of small, fast-moving warships from World War II. Automotive designer Harley Earl is credited as the inventor of the Corvette and convinced General Motors (GM) Tom Keating that GM needed to build a moderately priced two-seat sports car to compete with the European sport coupes. http://www.harleyjearl.com/corvette-history-101

The Chevrolet Corvette Generation C1 was produced from 1953 to 1962.

The body engineer for the original Corvette was Ellis James Premo, who suggested and implemented using fiberglass body panels in 1954 instead of steel (similar on the original Corvette protoype show car).

The original C1 Corvette had a 235 cu in “Blue Flame” Inline six-cylinder engine, with a top speed of 150HP, utilizing a 2 speed “powerglide” automatic transmission, and 0-60 mph was 11.5 seconds. The performance in 1953 was not competitive with European sports cars of the day, until automotive engineer and race car driver Zora Arkus-Duntov was hired at GM and introduced a new small-block V8 in 1955 outfitted with a four-barrel carburetor (265 cu in at 195hp) coupled with a 3-speed manual transmission that challenged the Ford Thunderbird, Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes Benz.

Zora is credited for introducing 4-wheel disc brakes, high lift camshafts, and “ramjet” fuel injection. Bill Mitchell was the chief designer at Chevrolet at the time and worked with Zora on future improvements to the Corvette including the next generation high performance C2 Corvette Sting Ray. 1956 had a new body style and the fins were gone, and in 1962 327 cu in engine went up to 360 hp.

There were only 300 Corvettes hand-built in Flint Michigan in 1953 offered only in polo white with red interior. The cost for a new 1953 Corvette was $3,498. Pictures are from my visit to Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.

1955 Chevrolet Corvette

New colors were added…

1957 Chevrolet Corvette

Performance increased over the years, and the Corvette transformed into a sports car.

Harley Earl designed the original Corvette logo.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette

1954 Firebird I Concept Car
1956 Firebird II Concept Car
1956 Firebird III Concept Car

The four-passenger Firebird II was characterized by innovations like a titanium body, a regenerative gas turbine, all-wheel independent suspension with automatic load-leveling, power disc brakes, alternator, magnetic ignition key, electric gear selection, and individually-controlled air conditioning.

The Firebird II had forward thinking features such as retractable head-lamps with rectangular lenses, pivoting directional signals, air flaps on the hood to vent engine and deflect bugs, a magnetic door key and a luggage compartment raised and lowered by remote control.

Some interesting interior features included a beverage cooler and outlet, retractable seat belts, reclining airplane-type seats, electronic adjustable headrests, ventilated seat cushions and a picnic table. The Firebird II also included a viewing screen for engine information, communication with the traffic “tower” and TV programs. A second screen replaced the rear-view mirror. A sophisticated guidance system or electronic auto-control was intended to be used with ‘the highway of the future.’ It utilized an electric wire, embedded into a roadway, to send signals to guide future cars and avoid accidents. This concept is the forerunner to self-driving cars, first seen by Motorama attendees 65 years ago.

The Firebird II concept car of 1956, is a four-seat, family car. It is a low and wide design with two large air intakes at the front, a high bubble canopy top, and a vertical tail fin. Its exterior bodywork is made entirely of titanium The engine output is 200 hp (150 kW). To solve its exhaust heat problem, the car feeds the exhaust through a regenerative system, which allows the entire engine to operate nearly 1,000 °F (538 °C), and also powers the accessories. Kerosene was the most common fuel used. Another innovation on the car is the first use of disc brakes on all four wheels, along with a fully independent suspension. It also featured a sophisticated guidance system intended for use with “the highway of the future,” where an electrical wire embedded in the roadway would send signals that would help guide future cars and avoid accidents.

I had the distinct opportunity to see the 1956 Firebird II concept car at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Here are some of my photo’s:

https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/gm-vehicle-collection/1956_Firebird_II.html

Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 Trophy

The Harley J. Earl Trophy is named after General Motors car designer Harley Earl. Earl, the second commissioner of NASCAR, was the designer of the Chevrolet Corvette; his Firebird I concept car provides the basis of the automobile that sits atop the trophy; The car is often misidentified as Sir Malcolm Campbell‘s “Blue Bird” land speed record car. Earl was a friend of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., who named the trophy after him as a sign of respect.

True Story… authored by Robikki at robbodnar.com 01/10/2020

Luxury Premium Sedans of Cadillac and Lincoln

1961 Cadillac 4-Door Hardtop

Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan 2019. General Motors Heritage Center in Warren, Michigan 2019.

While the 1961 Cadillac looked entirely different from its 1960 predecessor, it remained very similar mechanically. The biggest change was a new front frame, which lowered the tubular X-member chassis to give more seat height and head room.

The 1961 Cadillac engine was basically the 331-cid ohv V-8 of 1949 bored and stroked to 390 cubes. The 345-bhp Eldorado powerplant of 1959-1960, with three 2-barrel carburetors and dual exhausts, was no longer offered.

1961-1964 Cadillac Article here on How Stuff Works:

https://auto.howstuffworks.com/1961-1964-cadillac2.htm

1959 Cadillac Series 6200 Convertible

1959 Cadillac Broadmoor Skyview

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible

1971 Lincoln Continental

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

1965 Cadillac

1964 Lincoln Continental

1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado

1960 Lincoln Continental

1955 Cadillac

1978 Lincoln Continental

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2009 Cadillac Converj Concept

1999 Cadillac Evoq Concept

Cadillac Concept Cars