By Mark Davis
The 2019 AUVSI XPONENTIAL show took place recently. This is the biggest annual show dedicated to unmanned systems. Although it covers unmanned everything, the focus in recent years has been >80% unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The Airbus Vahana (air taxi) prototype was popular. Attached are a few photos of the cockpit and externals. This air taxi opportunity (such as Uber Elevate for example) is drawing a lot of investment both from aircraft incumbents (Airbus, Boeing, Bell, Embraer, etc.) and a slew of startup companies. Almost all of the vehicles are Electric VTOL that also have an efficient forward-flight mode.
Boeing’s CEO gave a keynote speech and covered many topics, including their supersonic prototype. This topic (supersonic commercial service) is resurrecting recently, with NASA X-59 and other prototype efforts well underway.
Counter-UAS was a big theme, as always, with both kinetic and electronic methods on display.
The weirdest thing I saw was definitely this “aerial motorcycle.” It has electric motors for VTOL and a jetcat for forward propulsion. Uh….no thanks.