You can get model aircraft jet engines with enough power for this. Various human-carrying craft have been built that way, such as the Zapata Flyboard. But the engines have a lifespan measured in hours and not enough reliability for carrying humans. That's why all the demo videos of these things are over water, or tethered.
People have been trying to build small, cheap jet engines for decades. "Small" has been done. Cheap, no. Below bizjet size, the price doesn't go down much. Which is why general aviation is still running mostly on pistons. The 1960s Williams jetpack (not the Bell rocket belt) used an engine intended for cruise missiles.
If they've cracked the small jet engine problem, there's a big market for those, without trying to package them as jetpacks or motorcycles. Otherwise, it's just another demo rig.
The video is a bit suspicious. It's very quiet. You can hear the boats over it. It doesn't blow stuff around. It doesn't move his clothing. It doesn't ripple the water even at low altitude. Other videos of small jet engines are very noisy and have lots of jet blast.
> The startup’s most pertinent problem is creating the autonomous stabilization technologies that will make flying the Speeder effortless and safe.
looks like a smokescreen for marketing to the tech crowd. Everyone is going to believe they can solve the stabilisation problem: that's "just software" and we see demos of robots solving stabilisation problems all the time. Building a jet engine that's an order of magnitude better (cheaper, more reliable) than the industry has managed in 50 years, but with more or less the same tech? That's the kind of problem you can't just solve with machine learning.
OTOH... In the context of a moonshot, maybe the non-existence of an affordable & appropriate engine is ok. Tesla started with an unaffordable battery, and built a really expensive car with it. The car was good though, compared to other cars in the sheiks & princes price range. It was an important step on the way and proved that the real pertinent problem was affordable batteries. Not an easy problem, but still.
There's probably some demand for flying motorcycles, even if they cost >€1m and are only good for 10 minutes of hovering over a lake.
From there... who knows. I'm not sure flying cars a mass market idea even if they cost the same as rolling ones.
I'm not sure if you're trying to imply it, but YC funding defense tech under the guise of funding toys for the ultra-wealthy would be interesting, but I don't honestly think that's what's going on here. I don't think they're likely to develop novel turbine technology, and the concept of a one-person turbine flying device left the US military unimpressed decades ago. There doesn't really seem to be a tactical niche for it on the battlefield.
Anyway... the military isn't always the ideal market force for driving down costs.
also the most pertinent problem with a thousand similarly idiotic ideas, from edible knives to jetpacks
All engines have lifespans measured in hours. Jetcat engines have service intervals of 25-50 hours, which usually involves bearing replacements, inspection, cleaning etc.
Non-RC small engines have very normal service intervals of 1000s of hours, right on par with large jet engines and as long or longer than piston engines. The JFS100 is slightly more powerful than a JetCat 550, and is a bona fide helicopter engine. Helicopters have used small <100 hp turbojet engines for decades. They're cheap and incredibly reliable. Those JFS 100s go for <$4,000.
They don't have the same power/weight ratio as jetcats because they're used to drive props- there is no demand for tiny jet engines because props are more efficient and jets require too much reduction for slow speed personal aircraft.
> The video is a bit suspicious. It's very quiet. You can hear the boats over it. It doesn't blow stuff around. It doesn't move his clothing. It doesn't ripple the water even at low altitude. Other videos of small jet engines are very noisy and have lots of jet blast.
This is excessively incredulous. The flyboard is well documented and perfectly reasonable. These people balance on jets of water without computers and jet engines are built to be trimmed in to match each other closely. Otherwise you'd have planes going in to flat spins when they pushed the throttle too hard.
He never goes near the water in that video, it's loud as hell, the only boat you can hear is a cigarette boat (which is basically a drag car), and he's wearing full leathers. Of course they aren't rippling. How would they fake a video like this?
I think it's slightly more correct to say that they have a service interval measured in hours. The jetcat ones require service every 25h of use, but there are other companies that require service less frequently, although the highest interval I found is 100h.
Another important reason is fuel consumption. Jet engines in general are extremely thirsty, AFAIK the only reason they became (unexpectedly!) competitive with piston engines is that they allow the planes to fly so much higher where the air is thinner.
In addition, small turbines are even less efficient than big ones.
Small has been done and cheaper is always possible, but significantly reducing the noise of jetpacks would require an amendment to the laws of fluid dynamics.
As for visible effects of the jet: at liftoff, the tether, that was detached by one of the crew just before, blows around a bit. I am trying to decide if you can see the jet as a distortion of the background, or whether that is an artifact of video decompression. The best opportunity for seeing it appears to be just after liftoff, when the right engine nozzle is seen with the cruise ship behind it, but there doesn't seem to be much of an effect there. As he approaches for landing, the netting around the pad appears to be blown around.
I thought they were over water due to FAA regulations. From an article about Larry Page's Kitty Hawk Flyer. 
> > In the US, the Flyer falls under the FAA's rules for ultralight aircraft, meaning no pilot's license is needed so long as it's flown over water or "uncongested areas."
FWIIW Moller's project is a great example of why this is hard.
It doesn't even seem to move the clothing of the guy that ducks behind him around 2:30.
There are a few paint flakes that come off and blow around a bit at 2:50 or so.
Five engines in the render, assume 1 is redundant:
705lbs to metric: 3134N. Divide by 4 = 784N which is _exactly_ the max thrust of a Nike.
With a 231lb empty weight, 180lb rider, and 5 gallons of kerosene (ultra light version) you get
104kg + 81kg + 15 kg = 200kg
sfc of a Nike is 40 grams / (kN second) (Should have gone with Hawk ;) )
Lets say hover thrust on a nice still day will be around ~ 1.9kN -> 76.7grams per second of flight.
Assuming I've not made any mistakes that gives roughly 3.5 minutes of hovering flight on that 15kg of fuel (ignoring the fact the vehicle gets slightly lighter as the fuel burns off).
That sort of matches up with the spec, assuming the 10-22 minutes stated is for a lighter human on the experimentally licensed version of the vehicle.
3.5 years ago my cofounder were working on what was actually becoming an okay telecom referral business at the YC Fellowship, but my cofounder and I weren't happy. Pretty much every partner there enthusiastically told us that we should definitely consider doing our totally insane idea to try and bring modernized commercial agriculture to smallholder farmers in subsaharan Africa.
We started our moonshot and it's still growing. I think the only people who really believed in us were us and my parents and a couple YC partners, and a couple people at Accion Venture Labs. That was all we needed though.
By the way, I still think our company is a moonshot. Starting a moonshot company is stressful, it's foolish, it's a thousand mistakes to crawl out of, and by far the most rewarding professional decision I've ever made. Any moonshot worth taking will have a real shot at changing the course of human history, and I'm much happier to have a 0.5% chance of ending hunger then to have a 30% chance of a medium amount of wealth.
Now I work on an enterprise saa. Much happier with the saas, but maybe it is a life stage thing.
You always hear about trying moonshots but I’ve never heard someone who went reverse and was happier!
At some point you want to minimize stress and just take an easy job that pays a shitload of money and you value your free time more than your career.
The usual explanation is something about lifestyle and mortgages and children and so on, but whether you earn the money in your 20s and do a moonshot in your 30s, or do the moonshot in your 20s and earn money in your 30s, don't you wind up at the same place either way?
I tell people to only start a startup, and definitely only start a moonshot startup if you can't help but let your ambition destroy your happiness. Things at Apollo are going really well, and it has been ~5x more stressful than when I was working at a really fast paced and successful US company. It's probably ~15x more stressful than when I was working at a laid back US tech company. You do it because you have to see what you're building in the world.
The challenge and stress of the moonshot never goes away, but the stress is more “intense trek through the mountains” and less “my family is going to starve and my friends hate me. “
Because it is very very hard to get to "fuck you"-money and passive income often isn't quite as passive as it seems.
I managed to get a mid level leadership role for a huge tech company. I no longer think about mortgages or tuition, I’m a million times less stressed out, and I enjoy my life.
It’s common but it’s not “sexy” to say fuck it, I want a sure thing for a while.
I have never seen YC as a company investing in moonshots. Most of the companies that get accepted seem to be building products for developers or similar saas businesses. Some of their recent biotech investments are a bit more cutting edge, but full of moonshots, YC is not.
Momentus - space propulsion, handy I guess for shooting towards the moon
Cruise and Embark - self driving cars and trucks
Helion and UPower - nuclear fusion and fission
Boom - supersonic aircraft
Ginko and Atomwise - custom designed organisms and drugs
Rigetti - quantum computing
Nectome - mind uploading
and I'm sure there are quite a few more
What they need in every company they fund is at least a potential of astronomical exponential fast growth, if it succeeds. That's why many of these can be called "moonshots".
If the upside in a company is only to be "mildly successful" - they are not for VCs. The upside has to be explosive (even if there is a low chance of it).
+1 to your experience of the role YC plays, and +1 to what y’all are doing at Apollo
On the other hand, it's not like they're betting the farm on a moonshot. They've funded over 1400 companies so they can afford to take chances, $150K for 7%. Who knows...after all they make their money of very few companies.
Basically, we start from "What is the best/highest ROI product we could sell a farmer" and then work backwards to make the rest of the business happen. It's required a ton of infrastructure and ground game, things that people in the developed world take for granted are huge problems here.
Let's get coffee?
Also, can you make it sustainable. AFAIK, industrial farming is destroying soil quality in nations that use it, and some farmers are looking at returning back to techniques like crop rotation...
To be honest, we're not going to tell farmers that they should pay 4x more to produce their inputs locally. These are some of the poorest people in the world, telling them they should continue to have a hunger season every year because of long term concerns about soil quality isn't in me. If you want someone to help lobby for a nitrogen tax in the developed world though, I'm your guy :) .
That doesn't mean it will be any easier (or harder), but it does mean that it is less of a "moonshot".
Empirically, at least two investors who had put money into successful early-stage driverless cars and one who put money early into Planet Labs thought what we were doing was going to be harder. For some VCs, Africa might as well be the moon.
You made "end[ing] human hunger for a few hundred million people" your goal, but it isn't the case that anything short of that equals complete failure. Even if you only got a fraction of the way that'd be a massive success in my view.
If you went 50 years in to the future and came back with X widget for farming and just dropped it in random place in South Sudan or Niger, I don’t think they would just become farming power houses.
- The accumulated knowledge of crop science is pretty strong, it's not a secret what the limiting factors in cereals crops are.
- Empirical results (see groups like The One Acre Fund, extensive research farm results in the region, high confidence RCTs leave basically no doubt)
- For US farmers prior to ~1930, they had the same average yields as Kenya does currently. In fact, fertilizer usage and yield have a very strong correlation and Kenya has a very similar curve.
Are there factors besides inputs that can impact yield? Absolutely. You could see from satellite imagery the places where conflict reached in Syria by harvest time as that conflict was developing. Market access and infrastructure in Kenya are super hard also, fertilizer is more expensive in rural Kenya than it is in the United States even though the consumers are much poorer.
Basically, there are certainly places that we're not a good fit for. I don't think we could operate in places with active conflicts like South Sudan, but Africa's a real big place. Kenya is quite stable and has effective if not formalized property rights for most smallholders. The thing I always try to remember is that America had very similar problems. The area that is now the great bread basket of the world also used to be referred to as "The Wild West."
Your US example appears to have been constrained by the current tech and knowledge of the day. In Kenya like you bring up, they aren’t limited by those things but rather lack of rule of law and property rights. So how can you compare them apples to apples?
This isn’t a chicken or egg thing. Rule of law and property rights are the necessary condition to allow people and society to grow and flourish. You can’t skip those necessary steps.
I mean look at the agricultural output for Zimbabwe for reference.
Things I believe:
- At the plant level, crop science has shown fertilizer and seed breeding are by far the dominant factor that control the first 75% of yield above wild types of maize/corn.
- One Acre Fund RCTs have shown that providing seed and fertilizer substantially improve yield outcomes.
- At the macro level, the development path of most countries that have transitioned out of agricultural economies have correlated extremely well with fertilizer usage. From the US to China, yield correlates really, really well with fertilizer usage and minimally with things like rule of law indexes of property ownership.
Which level or statement do we disagree at?
The approach that the kidney project is taking is very promising. It expands on the current dialysis method. Improved filtration but self contained in the body. No need to lug around a heavy machine. No regular clinic visits. 24x7 cleaning of blood. Reduced chance of infection. No rejection issues unlike transplants. The cost savings vs current dialysis is mind-blowing. Back in the 80s, our current dialysis method was in their infancy until new materials (plastics) made them feasible.
Humans are generally dumb and inattentive, and this particular vehicle looks like it would attract especially dumb humans who'd use them to try dumb things. Since they won't need any piloting certification, this is basically offloading risk onto everyone on the streets below.
I'd feel more comfortable if this were automated only. Then I'd at least be assured there'd be an organization held accountable, rather than a risk-seeking human who'd be dead anyway if it crashed.
If it were automated and had perfect mechanical reliability, then the only real issue is the noise pollution. Which still is going to be an issue, because these jets put out significant noise, and I haven't seen anything in the last 10-20 years since Moller's flying car prototypes to suggest that progress is being made there.
I love scifi as much as the next person here, but there's a lot of problems to solve before we put loud flying missiles in the hands of untrained adrenaline junkies flying over population centers.
It takes a third party to orchestrate busy sections of our current flying vehicles, planes, so I can't see any alternative to full automation of a mass of flying cars.
In a sane world we would have only segregated rail transport in urban areas and cars in rural areas where the population density is less than 10 people a square mile.
Though there are better places than the US, quite a few countries are willing to put up with absurdly higher risks.
If I'm even 10 metres under the ground, flying at 50km/h, if this device fails, of the battery runs out, you're not gonna live to the tell the tale. There is no parachuting, no way of gliding safely to the ground (like planes and helicopters). What is the safety net?
I can't ever see a world where even a minority of the population adopt flying cars. The chance of catastrophic failure (death) is too high.
Edit: After reflecting on this I realize that airplanes probably fall into these statistics, at least for catastrophic failure anyway. I'd be curious to examine statistics in more detail to figure out what a comfortable level of risk would be, but for now, I guess I fall into the ranks of your typical armchair critic on this one.
Can't imagine the stupid s%%t some are going to do in 3D.
So back in the day (fault of bad meds) I was sometimes a crazy driver. Poor impulse control. Drive it like you stole it. Whatever. But hey. I'm still alive, and I never got anyone else seriously injured or killed.
But anyway, one afternoon I was doing slalom at ~90 mph through ~70 mph traffic. And then, out of nowhere, this dude on a racing bike blew through at 140 mph or more. And we were all damn lucky that I saw him just before using the same gap that he was heading through. It would have been a serious mess.
I do other things.
I live on Moffett Field next to the 101 -- the vehicles from the 101 are far more annoying than the airplanes. Just listen to traffic noise pretty much in any urban or suburban environment. The Caltrain sounds like -- well, a freight train. My point is that if we cared about noise pollution, we'd be paying more attention to the everyday noise all around us and developing technology such as a hypothetical road surface that absorbs sound or finding ways to make the loud train horns unnecessary. The noise from trains and roads is far more obnoxious than any airplane sounds.
I can't believe we haven't cut & covered the Caltrain line yet. I imagine that's a project even the plentiful peninsula NIMBYs could get behind.
As sibling points out, airplanes at moffett are rather far away, whereas these flying bikes are meant to be point-to-point in dense environments. Also note that there's lots of regs & techs that help reduce noise for larger planes, and I'm not sure the same is going to be true for these smaller vehicles, similar to how all those two-stroke lawnmower and leaf blower engines are horrible both environmentally and noise-wise because they're optimized for size.
Nowhere else I've been are trains so obnoxiously loud.
The driving skills that we take for granted now, that seem to come naturally for so many people, were totally nonexistent a little over a hundred years ago. Our brains can now process lots of things moving at different rates of what would have been bewildering speeds to any human not that long ago. We negotiate traffic and anticipate tricky situations and have developed rules that help coordinate the chaos.
Yeah, there are a lot of collisions and deaths all the time, and there are a lot of people who aren't great at it. But even the not-great ones are capable of something that nobody was when the automobile was introduced.
Lots of things turn out better than we expect just because most people don't really want to die. If it were possible for people to fly around overhead in some kind of personal vehicles, my guess is most folks would learn how to handle it.
: Best I could do for now: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan-histor...
I’ve also jumped out of a dozen aircraft types via static line and ram air free fall chutes.
And I enjoy paragliding.
There’s nothing more I would like to see than a new form of personal flight.
However, I don’t see the viability of this thing at all.
Likely due to my having been in close proximity to the Martin Jetpack slow motion disaster over the last decade.
Reliability, repeatability, infallibility, safety, Certification, and classification.
All tall barriers to entry for recreational/commercial/civil aviation.
What would excite me would be an autonomous vertical lifting body that can lift a 200kg box over 200km, using 5-6 high reliability motors that can survive the failure of 1 or 2 motors as a result of mechanical failure or enemy fire.
For use in both commercial and military applications.
A reliable, agile, boring container carrier.
An oversized coffin shaped container that can fit 80%+ of high value commercial and military and commercial items, including personnel/casualty CASEVAC.
Why are we not building an autonomous platform around the carriage of a specifically calculated cube container?
Like a mini aerial 20ft or 40ft shipping container.
EDIT: there are jets small which could be attached to a rectangular frame. But I don't see where this can be used commercially? With what could you connect up in the air?
My thoughts are more along the lines of a 5 or 6 electric prop motor drone along the lines of Griff Aviation drones.
Applications would be:
Military: 200kg, 200km range/100km radius would provide low cost rapid vertical logistics and CASEVAC to sub units that is desperately needed.
Commercial: regional city pair rapid logistics for critical 1 hour delivery.
But they still produce a fair bit of noise, however much less than jet turbines.
My guess is that drone rotor prop design can incorporate noise reduction potential(including shrouds), but they will also have to be balanced against lift/thrust performance and additional weight offsetting payload/range.
I can easily imagine a future where residential drone delivery raises considerable concerns over not just safety, but noise, perhaps with associated minimum flight altitude floors to reduce ground signature.
But that will have an impact on drone payload/range as well.
Possibly an analog debate to electric scooters, lower congestion but higher personal injury rate.
In my limited experience with drones, 5/6 rotor drones appear to be more survivable/recoverable if the drone suffers a single rotor failure.
When Glenn spoke to a group of potential investors (which I was somehow a part of) back in 2011 you'd think that they were on the cusp of having a finished product and a stack of orders from the US DOD, a variety of commercial organisations, and dozens of rich people who want a personal aircraft. Technically Martin Jetpack still exists, but it has failed to bring anything to market, despite having millions of dollars poured into the company 
I struggle to see how Jetpack Aviation is going to achieve what Glenn and his company failed to do. They don't even have a flying prototype or a physical mockup, only some cool CAD models that look like they were made by some high school kid who's watched Star Wars a few too many times.
Jetpacks and flying motorbikes look cool, but on a practical basis they just aren't useful. They don't fly high enough or fast enough, and they can't operate in high wind or poor weather. For military/government use they aren't suitable and there just aren't enough rich people who want an expensive flying toy to sustain the market.
Why not for governments and EMS. If we can get EMS medics to heart attack and stroke victims just 1 min quicker the number of lives saved is 100,000 - 200,000/yr just in USA. Isn’t that worth taking a shot at?
I don’t understand the point about flying high enough. We can fly at over 15,000ft
> When Glenn spoke to a group of potential investors (which I was somehow a part of) back in 2011 you'd think that they were on the cusp of having a finished product and a stack of orders from the US DOD, a variety of commercial organisations, and dozens of rich people who want a personal aircraft.
You can obviously also have a lot more defibrillator drones available across a city than jetpack-equipped paramedics. I've seen it as a concept, not sure how many are in use and what their success rates have been.
I'm curious, how high have you actually flown it? Up to 15,000 ft? That sounds absolutely terrifying.
The world doesn't change b/c we will it to, the world changes b/c we take action!
This is extremely widespread and already industrialised.
"Joby Aviation has spent the last decade developing their own electric motors and their current VTOL design from the ground up." 
I'd guess that it's at least two years after development has completed in order to get through final certifications for whichever regulatory agencies have a say in this.
I remember this lesson from watching _Flight of the Phoenix_. :-) Congratulations!
Have to imagine that there are search and rescue/fire fighting/military uses for this technology, manned and unmanned.
All for an elite few who can afford it. That's not helping in saving the planet, people. Quite the contrary.
But I am down with the foldable phone idea. (I know you said bendable)
One, it normalizes truly radical engineering projects (look higher in the thread to see building an artificial kidney). If YC signals it sees a jet bike as acceptable, imagine all of the ideas that seem just a bit too crazy that become possible.
Two, toys are generally the first or second version of truly radical technologies. Compared to a motorcycle, yes this looks extremely dangerous. Compared to a helicopter - down right low risk.
How is this lower risk than a helicopter? If a helicopter fails it doesn't just drop out of the sky; it can autorotate relatively safely to the ground. Autorotor flight is a safety feature taught to every helicopter pilot. People have walked away from helicopter crashes. A jetbike presumably won't have that feature.
Can you imagine how fucking LOUD one of these things would be? Regular motorcycles drive my crazy with the noise from their ICEs. Now what if they had jet ingines one them instead? That alone should be enough to get these things banned.
If this isn’t a sign of how out of touch some people in Silicon Valley has become, I don’t know what is.
They don't have to be loud it's just that people pull off the stock muffler and throw on something different.
I used to have a ZX-10 that two owners before me used to amateur race which had basically straight pipes and it was entirely too loud -- used to set of car alarms just idling through parking lots. The police around here don't enforce the noise pollution laws so I didn't bother with it though I'm pretty sure my neighbors didn't like me too much starting that thing up at 5am.
My current bike (if I ever get around to getting it running) is as quiet as a kitten with its (intact) stock mufflers.
Some of the reasons Tesla has succeeded that may be relevant for Speeder:
-Safety: Tesla's construction has allowed their vehicles to have the highest crash ratings. Removing an engine & simplifying the frame have helped.
-Driverless: Tesla has popularized & legitimized much of the technology that is trending towards driverless cars.
-Performance: The Tesla Roadster was the moonshot (no pun intended) since it kicked off the brand while being sexy both design wise and by its performance. When electric car was associated with the nerdy, economical Prius, Tesla flipped that stereotype on its head.
-Infrastructure: Tesla created the ecosystem to maximize the customer experience. From purchase/service/charging, Tesla independently set up the touch points to minimize friction.
My advice would be to go the SpaceX route instead of the Tesla route. You can go both and I'm sure you already are. Just remember that the regulatory environment will stall major headway for consumers. For military/government applications, this can be fast tracked and see applications right away. Those learnings can satisfy regulatory concerns and be the beta test needed.
Seems sort of like a premium jet-ski that flies, but is even louder and more annoying, and has far more property damage potential in addition to being capable of producing even more gruesome accident scenes than crotchrocket motorbikes.
I think they should go for it, but I expect they'll be as popular as Bugatti Veyrons.
They won't be able to see anything through the body of the thing (gotta squint at a little display to understand what the heck you're flying towards?).
All their weight is going to be on their crotch (and, like, the front part of it) or maybe their stomach.
Their neck is going to be fighting gravity in the most awful way.
The fact that the rider's pocket is directly above the intake could be an issue.. I guess everyone riding these should be rich enough to not carry loose change.
For SAR applications, another interesting application of the control advances from the drone market might be a powered rescue winch harness: use the line for power delivery from the helicopter mothership and as a safety fallback, but gain hugely increased agility and precision from using a local set of fans for lift instead of swinging under the helicopter as a passive pendulum load. It would make helicopter rescue from steep slopes much less risky and open up vertical walls (or even overhangs) for helicopter access.
Doing that on something like this would be amazing.
Good luck guys! You're solving some really Hard problems here.
1 - Is this is a product for consumers who buy $300-500K super sports cars?
2 - Is this targeted to the consumers who buy private planes?
3 - Is this for search and rescue market?
Group 1 - I don't know. Why not buy a drone-based technology that runs on batteries that might be cheaper and perhaps more reliable. Yes, it may not have the same energy density of batteries, but you can get your 20 min of thrill, super charge it and fly again for another 20 min.
Group 2 - I don't see this being comfortable, they'll buy a single engine plane with seats for 4 that is more comfortable and you don't freeze, or for more adventures people a trike at a fraction of a cost would do fine.
Group 3 - For search and rescue, you probably go as a team of 2-3 people and if you're rescuing people you need to bring them back. So you'll need a fleet of these. I understand helicopters are expensive, but once you add a few of these, then you're compete with a true and tested helicopter model.
Maybe at the end of the day, they'll make this autonomous, put a few missiles on it and then sell it to the pentagon. It's agile and fast and probably can make an argument for its tactical advantages.
So much for the argument that capitalism entrusts wealth in the hands of a few for the benefit of all, or that wealth correlates to merit in any meaningful sense.
I really wish our civilisation would stop holding novel undertakings to uniquely rigorous (ethical, safety...) standards than it never seems to apply to its established habits.
I don't mean to be negative but here's a few questions:
What happens when you hit turbulence?
What happens if you get caught in a rainstorm?
What happens if you fly into a flock of birds?
What happens when you fly into lightning on a clear day?
None of those have to be fatal in an airplane, but potentially could be on this machine.
In rain you’d get wet just like riding a motorcycle on the road. The engines keep running fine.
Flying into birds is not recommended for any aircraft. They wouldn’t go into the engines but could hit the pilot then our safety systems would need to deploy.
Lightning usually won’t take an aircraft of any type out of the sky but may affect instruments.
My first thought was "why is the pilot hunched over the intakes?" immediately followed by "holy hell that wing/disc loading must play hell on power requirements and fuel consumption, how does that work?".
You mention a scale model elsewhere, is there any video of it available online?
* are piloted by people who have to be certified pilots, which takes considerable training
* are flown at higher altitudes than what this product's marketing is suggesting
* are much more expensive to own/operate
* are only allowed to take off from specific places (regional airports) that tend to be away from high population density areas
* can use the lift from wings to potentially glide to safety if engine failures occur
This concept looks like it works best for short hops between high population density areas, and is at a price point and training level (read: none) that would mean many more potential vehicles would be in the air. So it's not only the above issues but also a matter of degree.
I feel like the easier place to start is a low-speed automated cargo delivery system that runs on pre-defined flight paths and only in certain weather conditions. Even then you're dealing with pretty decent risk profile given the failure mode of anything flying is rather dangerous.
I'm not against flying things in cities per se, just want to see the discussion go more like 1) flying things are good for X Y Z reasons, 2) major issues to address before we get there include A B C, 3) here's how we're solving those to unlock this new opportunity. Maybe that discussion is happening in other places, but I'd love to see these safety factors better addressed by anyone building these types of things, else it doesn't build much confidence in the viability of the company.
Edit: apparently there's a ton of engineering problems with both ducted fans (stability) and folding wings (unfolding in flight is tricky). No idea if this approach is feasible.
Let's hope the sky doesn't become a tragedy of the commons in the same way motorways did.
Most importantly, we’ll never get to a future like what was imagined in the video if people are not taking honest shots at it. The fact that this is being given a chance is very exciting.
Owning the jetpack outright seems like a sort of "high octane for rich people entertainment" play, which you could compare to the Tesla roadster approach.
You could even have some bungee jumping/jet ski equivalent of it where you rent it for a couple hours.
Longer term, maybe you could have a jetpack/drone Uber-type merge, where you can have your jetpack delivered on demand, go where you want in a quick and entertaining way, and dispose of it until you need one for the ride back.
For example, for someone who works at the Googleplex in Mountain View, 10 minutes gets you to Fremont (less oppressive housing market), 15-17 minutes gets you to Santa Cruz or SF/Oakland, and 22 minutes could get you to places as far away as Gilroy or Concord. All of these are spitball estimates, but they are directionally correct.
“As the crow flies” distances are deceptively short, and the impact this could have on housing markets, commuter towns, and “suburbs” could be huge. One could imagine a scenario in which the savings on housing would easily make one of these bikes look downright cheap (e.g., house in Mountain View versus similar house in Fremont). While there are issues of whether one would want to live in Mountain View or Fremont, the fact is that the option will exist in a way that sucks less than spending ridiculous amounts of time on the Bay Area highways and interstates.
But if it practically worked as a day to day driver it would absolutely revolutionise traffic in some cities, such as Jakarta with 18 million motorcycles all stuck in traffic.
Cant imagine all the issues you'd have to work through to make that work though. It would be a good time to invest in roof-repair and insurance businesses.
They said the exact same thing about cars when they first came out.
Wouldn’t you need a pilot’s license for this? If it only flies so low that you don’t, isn’t it then suuuuper dangerous?
I say the dangerous part as a former Boosted Board afficionado and current motorcycle rider
YC can spend their money how they wish, but I wish this moonshot was something of actual use to more people.
Edit: turbine intakes, FTA.
They are already talking about cargo is more likely than passengers. Ever the same story in transportation.
Experience Day fees start from only $10,000 per person per day with possible discounts for groups and full training costs approximately $60,000.
This is the biggest problem in the world, according to YC. As befits the title “moonshot,” it’s the most pressing problem we face. It’s SO HARD that we might not ever fully solve it, but it’s SO IMPORTANT to society that we should fund it anyway.
Homelessness? Hunger? Nope: A flying motorcycle.
This is just one of about 200 companies YC has funded in this batch alone. Some of the other ones are working on humanitarian problems, and over the years YC has funded many non-profits and companies working on humanitarian problems, as well as putting huge funding towards research into basic income and medical challenges.
There's no opportunity cost issue here: YC seeks to fund every project - commercial or humanitarian - that seems to have some chance of succeeding or leading to some kind of valuable breakthrough.
You should point to a case where they've failed to do that if you know of one - I'm sure YC would like to know about it.
Since the sale price is in the order of magnitude of 1,000 times that of an electric scooter, the cost of a ride should roughly go from US$1+0.15 per minute to US$ 1,000,00+150,00 per minute ...
Also what happens if you have a loose thing on your person that gets sucked into the fan.
The image looks nice and Sci fi, but that design isn't practical.
If you've tested it and works, I retract the last paragraph, still looks Sci fi though.
Have you tested for a coin strike? For a plane you're going to have an upper bound for what your going to get in the engine, because it has to be picked up by the engine. This design, anything could fall in, potentially quite dense.
Planes can glide after a loss of power, helos autorotate, do these just fall out of the sky on a nice ballistic arc?
Maybe one of those whole plane
"In the very unlikely event that all four engines fail, we’ll go straight into the ground like a fucking dart." -Billy Connolly