All-electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will transform urban transportation. We have shared with readers all sorts of flying taxi concepts, with some of them in the testing phase. There are more than 100 companies worldwide working on eVTOLs for urban air mobility, but before any of them begin commercialization, primarily in the US, NASA researchers want to analyze crash test performance data of eVTOLs to determine the safety of passengers.
NASA researchers at the Landing and Impact Research facility at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, dropped a full-size eVTOL from about 30 feet, simulating an emergency landing.
"The test was a great success for the crash-worthiness team at Langley.
"We successfully tested the eVTOL vehicle concept representing a six-passenger, high wing, overhead mass, multiple rotor vehicle, obtaining more than 200 channels of data, and collecting over 20 onboard and off-board camera views," Justin Littell, research assistant for Langley's Structural Dynamics Branch, said in a statement.
A video released by NASA shows the eVTOL being hoisted into the air and then released by a swing to simulate a very hard landing.
"While we are still going through the data and video, and these results are preliminary, we see that there are two main events that occurred during this test," said Littell. They include:
The first event was the floor crushing and seat stroking. The subfloor and energy-absorbing seats functioned as intended and limited the effect of the impact on the crash test dummies.
The second was the collapse of the overhead structure. The effect of the overhead structure collapse on the crash test dummies is still being determined.
Researchers are still determining the crash effects on the cabin structure and the test dummies.
"When looking at crash conditions for these types of vehicles, it's important to note the structural weight and distribution that must be made when examining a specific design," said Littell.
Joby Aviation, a US-based eVTOL manufacturer, has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration on a certification process for its S4 air taxi. The certification ensures aircraft can meet the FAA's safety standards.
NASA said a second full-scale crash test is planned for the second half of this year. Low-altitude transport that is 'zero-emission' will be coming to major cities before the end of this decade -- perhaps even before the midpoint of this decade -- as Joby wants to launch aviation services in 2024.