Living in the Future

The Jetson One is supposed to be available for sale next year at a price of just under $100K.

This craft avoids some of the roadblocks of other attempts to get into this (create is probably aa better term) market because it is classified as an ultralight.

The specs on the current version indicate it could carry me but not if I had a small bag of groceries with me.

The payload would have to at least 50% more and the cost reduced by a factor of four before I would give it serious consideration, but it would be very handy for a quick trip to and from town at my place in Idaho. Because of the long and winding road into the nearest town it takes 30 minute of driving time. It is less than eight miles as a VTOL would fly. That translates into eight to ten minutes instead of the 30 minutes driving time. And when the roads are hazardous because of snow and ice, this would save even more time and might even be safer.

The flight time without a recharge is 20 minutes so the trip into town would be at the edge of its range for a round trip. Still, that is very cool.

I’ve been causally looking at personal affordable VTOL craft for at least 35 years now. There have lots of promises and nothing of substance.


11 thoughts on “Living in the Future

  1. Sweet! What a fun buggy! If only they had a small lite generator for the power to give it some range.
    Too much fun!

    • Good point. That would make it a plug-in hybrid. 🙂

      You’d have to limit the amount of fuel on board to stay within ultralight specs, but most likely that would still give a substantial boost in range. And with more available energy the motor power could be increased, resulting in more payload.

  2. My commute is 26 moles by road, but I suppose 21 miles as the crow flies. My wife is similar. The kids go to school 14 miles away. What would really make this work as a standardized landing/parking/charging/service tower. 500 feet tall with a spreading landing pad roof, you land at the nearest tower, get robotically snagged and pulled down to the disembarking level, then you scurry down the elevators to the transport level (above the parking garage for ground cars) and zip over to your office tower.

    What about the kids? Instead of warehousing them in government gulags, your kids are picked up on time and zipped to their next small-group tutor, implementing voucher and homeschooling to the best of their ability, then zipped across dozen of miles to their next contracted tutor…

    …and that’s how the whole thing is killed by the public teacher union.

  3. When one considers what the Alaskans do with Super Cubs, one of those might be a better bet. IIRC, the record for STOL takeoff is something like 15 feet and landing is about 10 feet. Given that’s using every possible aeronautical advantage, even quintupling it is still pretty short. Cruising speed is in the 80-100 MPH range depending on engine choice; not terribly fast, but “as the crow flies” shortens travel time dramatically as does avoiding traffic lights.

    One acre is a square 208′ 8.5″ on a side so one acre of pavement for “Air Ops” would allow taking off and landing into the wind regardless of wind direction (assuming no nearby height obstacles to overcome) and mown grass would work for parking and tie down. Were someone to devise a simple and reliable folding wing mechanism for them, parking density could go way up.

    Commuting by STOL air wouldn’t work in NYFC or Philadelphia, but thw wide open spaces of the mid- and far-west, sure.

    Plus fixed wing aircraft have, well, “wings” which means they glide in the event of power loss (some better than others….).

    But using something like a Super Cub means moving up and out of the ultralight class and would require a much higher level of cockpit sharing with the FAA, so there’s that.

  4. You might want to look into how much performance degrades at higher density altitudes. This may not be as big a factor as it is for conventional aircraft as the electric power system does not lose power the same way an internal combustion engine does at higher altitudes. The specs at the link list a service ceiling, but it is not expressed as an altitude in a standard atmosphere as it would be for any other aircraft.

    • Speaking of performance degradation, both videos show the Jetson in or quite near Ground Effect Height. That might be to create the appearance of speed relative to the ground (I noticed the iPhone “instrument display” read from 39 to 47 KPH, interesting they chose to show KPH and not MPH – 47 KPH = 29.2 MPH which isn’t very fast) or it might indicate performance degrades substantially out of ground effect.

      And, looking at FAR Part 103 (FAA Federal Aviation Rule 103) regarding ultralights, operation is prohibited after sunset and before sunrise except if it has an approved anti-collision light you can add 30 minutes to each end. So, if you get stuck at work late you’re walking home, and in mid-winter when the days are short you’ll get only about 9 1/2 hours use of it (more, or less, depending on latitude). And, while there are no pilot licenses for ultralights, there does seem to be a training requirement of some sort.

      • The MAJOR problem I see for both the Cub and this Jetson class vehicle for what you propose is the demonstrated lack of ability (cluelessness) of the average car driver. MOST drivers never progress beyond the minimal “point car in the direction I want to go, and hope for the best result”. The Jetson would have to be TOTALLY computer controlled. Probably not feasible for the Cub.

        Most drivers exhibit NO interest in improving their ability to handle a vehicle once they obtain a license. NONE. THIS mentality is the push for getting cars to the driverless ability.

        At most, you might have a target group of about 3% of the population that would be able to handle this, and I suspect it would be more like 1%, if that much. Look at the percentage of motorists that also ride motorcycles. Then, look at the number that race them. Same for flying aircraft. A vanishingly small proportion.

        • I will not disagree. From what I see on the roads I am surprised those people can dress and feed themselves.

          As for flying and road racing motorcycles, having done both I am confident that your 3% figure is high, and I’m none too sure 1% isn’t too high also. Both require levels of committment, study and prolonged intense concentration that is beyond the mastery of most. “Momentary Concentration Lapse” behind the wheel of a minivan leads to fender benders, and worse; failing to concentrate fully and intensely while flying (or racing) leads directly to “worse” quite quickly.

          Which may at least partially explain the voting process that leads to results like Obama, Biden and Graham…..

  5. With an ultralight, you do not need a pilot’s license in the USA. OTOH, the aircraft is limited to what the FAA deems won’t cause much of a disaster if the pilot effs up. Empty weight of 264 pounds; it’s quite a feat of engineering to lift a 200 pound man with only that much weight allowed for structure, engine, and empty fuel tank or loaded batteries, so I don’t think Joe will see the added payload for a serious grocery-buying trip. Only 5 gallons of fuel, which would give much better range than the battery pack in this one. The FAA probably hasn’t even considered the incendiary potential of a lithium-ion battery that’s been mangled in a crash, but I think any batteries an ultralight can lift will contain less energy than 5 gallons of gasoline. Maximum speed 63 miles per hour; I’d say that I’ve seen days when the wind would have blown any ultralight backwards, except that I think it would take less wind to break it into pieces.

    I see the FAA now has a “sport pilot” license. It allows you to fly an aircraft up to 1,320 pound empty weight (with other restrictions) with less training than the private pilot’s license. The Supercub seems to fit this limit.

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