Hydrogen-powered flying vehicle touted as Southern California traffic tonic
Updated : May 30, 2019 09:58 AM IST
Developers of a multi-rotor hover craft billed as the first flying vehicle to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells unveiled a full-scale model on Wednesday in Southern California, in a show-and-tell that raised some eyebrows but never left the ground. A mockup of the futuristic aircraft, dubbed "Skai" by its inventors, was put on exhibit for investors, the news media and other invited guests outside the BMW Group's Designworks studio in Newbury Park, a suburb north of Los Angeles. Engineering and avionics for the drone-like vehicle were developed by Alaka'i Technologies, a privately held company based in Massachusetts but named for a tropical forest in Hawaii ranked as one of the wettest spots on Earth. The BMW unit contributed to the craft's design. The company touts the Skai craft as a promising new zero-emissions mode of personal airborne transport ideal for Southern California, a region long plagued by smog and renowned for traffic gridlock of epic proportions. While several car makers have struggled to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology into the automotive mainstream, Alaka'i describes its invention as the "world's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered air mobility solution." The mock-up displayed on Wednesday, about the size of a minivan, resembles a sleek, five-seat SUV with landing skids and an array of six horizontal rotors attached at the end of arms protruding from the roof of the craft. It was all for looks.