LAS VEGAS (CIRCA) — For over 50 years, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has brought science fiction technology to life with innovations like self-driving cars, virtual reality, and now even the Batwing.
At first glance, Bell's Nexus air taxi concept looks very much like Batman's iconic hoverplane with its sleek black design and high-tech instruments, but a closer look reveals this to be simply the evolution of ride-sharing into the sky.
With a range of 150 miles and an airspeed of about 150 mph, this hybrid-powered passenger drone from well-known helicopter maker Bell is ideal for shuttling through congested cities, serving as a replacement for otherwise time-consuming routes such as airport commutes.
Though air taxis sound like a luxury reserved only for the super rich, Bell insists the Nexus is for everyone and will operate at low enough costs to attract the likes of rideshare apps like Uber.
"We’re actively trying to make it affordable for the everyday consumer," said Bell avionics lead Frankie Mazzei. "We’re estimating right now to be about $2 per mile share."
The Nexus takes off vertically like a drone or helicopter, and switches into "airplane mode" with six convertible fans that allow it to achieve forward thrust. Initially the taxi will be piloted, but Bell is planning to stay on trend by eventually going fully autonomous, allowing for that fifth seat to accommodate cargo or an additional passenger.
The Bell Nexus shown on display at CES 2019 is just a concept vehicle for now, but Bell is planning on having full certification for flight as early as 2025.
And in case you’re wondering, there are four cup-holders and plenty of places to charge your phone.