CES 2019: VTOL Preview


Starting tomorrow, January 8, all eyes will be on Las Vegas to find out the latest in all things tech – including VTOLs.

In 2018, Volocopter made headlines by flying ex-computer hardware giant Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich in the 2X VTOL prototype. Workhorse Group also exhibited and initially planned to conduct a test-flight of its SureFly VTOL at the show but had to cancel due to adverse weather conditions.

The only returning VTOL company from last year will be Bell. In 2018, Bell exhibited a model of its air taxi cabin at CES for the first time and has since bought the cabin to several tech and industry events including Heli Expo in March.

This year, there are three new faces representing the VTOL market. The newly-established Next-Future Transportation will be exhibiting at the show. The team is developing a multi-modal eVTOL with piloted and autonomous capabilities and will be displaying a model of the aircraft at the show.

NFT is developing the VTOL in both Israel and California and is aiming at a consumer-friendly price point of $50,000. The company is co-founded by GE Digital Co-founder Maki Kaplinsky and her husband/ex-vice president of GE Digital Guy Kaplinski. Both will be hosting a media presentation tomorrow.

The Japan-based flying-car manufacturer Cartivator will also be exhibiting. Not much is publicly known about the company’s Skydrive concept outside of a few pieces of concept art and early specifications. The company hopes that a two-seater prototype of the Skydrive will be flying by 2020, in time for the Tokyo Olympic games where it will be used to light the Tokyo Olympic Flame.

The Skydrive’s projected specifications boast an incredibly small footprint, promising a total length of only 3.6 metres and width of 3.1 metres in flight mode. The Skydrive is expected to achieve a maximum  flight speed of 100 km/h at an altitude of 50 metres. Cartivator hopes to sell the SkyDrive to the public in 2023.

The world’s first hoverbike manufacturer Hoversurf will be making an appearance at CES. The company recently produced the first five Scorpion 3 hoverbikes for launch customer the Dubai Police, which first demoed the vehicle back in 2017.

In an interview with VTOL Investor, Hoversurf’s CEO Joseph Segura-Conn said that the next step for the company is building its two-person hovercar christened ‘Project Formula’. According to Segura-Conn, Hoversurf will be presenting “something never before seen” at CES, which could hint towards a concept reveal of Project Formula.