Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who advises flying vehicle startups, tells Axios that enormous improvements in lithium-ion batteries are a key enabler of this new age, but that much more progress is required.
It’s all about the economics: Developers are relying on autonomous electric technology because they cheapen the cost-per-mile operation of such vehicles over internal combustion systems, Viswanathan said.
“Having access to a pilot for that number of flying taxis will be nearly impossible,” he said.Currently, Viswanathan said, commercial electric car batteries can last about 1,000 cycles of charging and recharging, enough for hundreds of thousands of miles of driving.
But flying passenger vehicles will require batteries that can endure many thousand more cycles, he said, in order to make the vehicles work economically.
That is the next hurdle — developing more durable lithium-ion batteries.