Air taxis, flying cars and eVTOLs are just a number of the popular names currently being used to refer to unmanned vehicles which are being designed to carry humans in the future. With all these names being thrown around it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between what an air taxi is versus a flying car, whether there can be one name for all of these devices and if so, why all these different names are being used interchangeably? The answer, as always, lies in the details. All of these platforms have one main thing in common: they are designed to carry humans. Therefore, the term that most accurately describes them under one umbrella and without any specification limitations (e.g. regarding energy sources, configuration etc.) is passenger drones.
To help explain why and how this is the case, we’ve built a framework that segments passenger drones according to their features in order to show the different varieties which are available.
What Defines a Passenger Drone?
There are several levels at which it is possible to distinguish between different aerial platforms being designed to carry humans. The very first level is whether they are piloted/manned or unpiloted/unmanned. Looking at our framework all drones which are designed to carry humans but not be piloted are passenger drones.
Important to note here is that even though many platforms aim to fly unpiloted in the future, today they are still manned. In order for this to change, full automation is key. Once truly autonomous solutions are made available and once these are certified according to aviation standards, passenger drones will be able to fly humans with no pilot involvement.
As the industry grows and a private market develops, any passenger drone will also have the option of becoming a private flying device, depending on what market the manufacturer seeks out for their platform. However, given how young the industry still is, this is not yet the case.