PAL-V, the first flying car to be allowed on the road in Europe, is now also the first flying car to complete full certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The PAL-V Liberty (flying car) went through 10 years of testing, and now is in the final phase of compliance demonstration before becoming available to customers.
PAL-V CEO, Robert Dingemanse, said, “Although we are experienced entrepreneurs, we learned that in aviation everything is exponentially stricter. Next to the aircraft, all aspects of the organization, including suppliers and maintenance parties must be certified.”
In 2009, PAL-V worked with EASA to amend the Certification Specifications for Small Rotorcraft, CS-27, as a starting point for certification of its flying car. Ultimately, together they amended the complete list of more than 1,500 criteria to make it applicable for PAL-V. The final version of these criteria was published last week. Note that this development only occurred after more than 10 years of analysis, test data, flight tests, and drive tests.
This EASA certificate is valid in Europe AND is also accepted in about 80 percent of the world’s market, including the United States and China.
Last week, AutoX, a start-up company backed by Alibaba, Media Tek and Shanghai Motors, announced that it will roll out a fleet of autonomous vehicles in downtown Shenzhen, China, called RoboTaxis. While autonomous vehicle programs have been popping up all over the world, this is the first time these vehicles will be deployed in China without safety drivers onboard or remote operators monitoring the vehicle.
However, in order to meet the stringent government safety requirements for autonomous vehicle testing, these self-driving cars had to conduct more than 18,600 miles of “perfect test driving” on open, public roads before also undergoing a safety evaluation on a closed test track.
The vehicles that will be hitting the public streets will use artificial intelligence (AI) that has been used to transport more than 100,000 passengers across 27 cities around the globe. Note that, while these vehicles will be considered autonomous and without a human driver onboard, there will be human assistance “on-call” for emergency purposes through AutoX’s 5G Remote Driving Service. This service helps to create an extra level of safety. This fleets’ operation will allow these RoboTaxis to gradually reduce human intervention, which is a key step to the widespread commercialization of autonomous vehicle technologies. Where will these driverless vehicles end up next? Stay tuned.
Walmart announced that it will begin experimenting with self-driving cars in a pilot program with General Motors-backed Cruise (a tech start-up with electric, self-driving cars) to deliver groceries and other products to neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona. The program will launch in 2021. The fleet of cars will use electricity from renewable resources to curb carbon emissions from the operation.
Customers will be able to place an order from their local store and have the products delivered contact-free by one of Cruise’s self-driving cars. The goal is to save customers time and money while also experimenting with technology that will help the environment.
While the pandemic has halted lots of autonomous vehicle companies’ plans to launch all sorts of services across many different cities in the U.S., the need for contact-free delivery, including prescription deliveries, has led many companies like Cruise to use the technology to fill that need.