Commuting markets in everything?

From Palo Alto to San Francisco in 15 minutes.

Hello, Palo Alto residents!

We are an early-stage startup that is aiming to shorten your commute times. We use state-of-the-art Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircrafts. We have just opened access to early flights:

You would be able to fly from Palo Alto to San Francisco in about 15 minutes for about $23 one-way.

It would mean a lot to us if you could share some feedback and if this kind of service would be beneficial to you.

Thank you so much!

Here is the link, via tekl.


No way on God's Earth that would cost you only $23.

And enjoy being dropped of in some random location in San Francisco, still three miles from where you need to be. I'm sure the remaining 55 minutes in a $70 Uber will be a treat.

(assuming the voice of one of the founders of this thing) "Um, we strongly advise against the use of the verb 'dropped.'"

Hello! I am the founder of "this thing".

I really do appreciate so much interest but I just wanted for you to keep in mind that this is something in extremely early stages and it only conveys an idea. It is extremely far from perfect but the amount of feedback that we are collecting points to the fact that people are, indeed, looking for a better commute alternative.

It is hard to believe for something like this to exist in the near-future but we are going to try our best to bring this to life.

Hopefully, you'll be a part of this journey.

So to be clear none of this technology actually exists yet?

eVTOL tech exists already, under certification, as of today.

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Thanks for finally talking about >Commuting markets in everything?
- Marginal REVOLUTION <Loved it!

The competition, by the time this could work, will be far better telecommunication.

If the goal is to reduce commute times why not use artificial intelligence to match up peoples home income work in financial situation to relocate them in a more effective way. Spend the money to develop the software where people opt in on a lifestyle change that is economically advantageous. I’ll take %10 for pitching the concept. Just saved your rocket fuel and a whole lot of time highering the wrong engineers. :) Cheers

Is "collecting points" the year 2020 equivalent of telemarketing or phone surveys?

predatory pricing, the true hallmark of Silicon Valley

This pricing reflects more long-term vision. At the start of our operations, we do anticipate relatively high prices.

Oh.... so, they're completely made up!

Thanks -- this alleviates all of my concerns.

Yes, let's give the left wing liberals of Silicon Valley cheap helicopter rides.

Not sure how you could shoehorn a high volume helicopter operation, electric or not, into the airspace controlled by SFO, San Jose (SJC) and Oakland, not to mention Hayward. Some of the most saturated airspace in the world.

Indeed, that is one of the hardest airspaces to start with. We are exploring other options, as well.

Not sure how this is different from a helicopter, which many rich people in NYC use to get to the airport or the Hamptons. However, helicopters are very dangerous, and I doubt that these aircraft are any safer, so I would not travel that way even if I had the money.

Cost is the reason. This technology would be far cheaper to operate than helicopters, probably cheaper than a taxi as in their suggested prices.

No, I don't think these people can deliver it (based on their website quality), but it has potential.

Hi, there. Founder here.

Thank you, at least, for believing in the idea.

But what about safety? I don't want to pay $23 or $2300 to get to the Hamptons if there is a significantly elevated risk of dying.

It is never our intention to put anybody in danger! Besides, we won't be able to operate without being certified first.

I think that helicopters are safer than cars or at least motorcycles, based on passenger-miles, but based on number of flights vs number of times getting in and out of a car, maybe cars are safer. I'd have to Google this...hold on...yes, I got it right, see this thread:

You got it wrong. That link says helicopters are 10x as dangerous as cars based on passenger-miles. Maybe if you had a few more patents you would do better, Ray.

Helicopters are extremely dangerous; anyone who rides in one without having their bowels loosened is misunderstanding their situation.

You're thinking of catapults.

Agreed. Looks like a duck, etc. From Wikipedia (I know, not always correct): a helicopter is "a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors." But I guess it is more exciting to give it a different name. I remember the old George Carlin joke (paraphrased): "YOU get your mail from a boring ol' postman, but I get MINE hand-delivered to my house by a uniformed Federal agent on foot."

Hi, there. Founder here.

Please, note: helicopters will not be a part of this service - only eVTOLs.

Insurance also available at an introductory low price. Or free with a signed liability waiver.

The rendering of the aircraft looks more like a drone than a helicopter. I assume it has a pilot but that's not clear. I'm skeptical, not least because of SF's weather. How does this work at $23 one-way? The rendering includes the terminal/landing pad, which is over water in the rendering. This suggests it will be located on the Bay in SF, which would facilitate ditching the aircraft in the water rather than on the street or into buildings in the event of a problem. .

The rendering over the water is probably merely for marketing reasons. More likely it would just be a flat space on the roof of a small building. But that doesn't look as cool.

Their Q&A does say there is a pilot, and that most of the craft will hold 5 passengers. But not sure how close the passengers sit to the pilot. I don't need some rando within arms reach of the throttle...

Hello, founder here.

Renderings are there to convey the idea only. They do not represent the actual eVTOL.

Next version of the website will contain more details. Thank you!

into buildings

Maybe SA can provide some pilots

I will be super impressed if they go from two sentences of safety information to actual commercial flights by next year.

Conceptually wonderful, though I don't really see enough concrete detail on the website to convince me this is anything more than a nicely animated elevator pitch.

Last four words, no pun intended? If the ride is an elevator (I didn't click on the link) then it's a good pun.

Considering it will be going up, "elevator" pitch is indeed the apt expression!

Just like this gizmo is an eVTOL, not a helicopter, you need to upgrade all your transport terminology: an "elevator" is a "personal vertical transport ePod." (grin)

Thank you Ray, anon, and Glenn.
It's nice to know my work is appreciated.

Hello! Founder here!

The website only conveys the idea. We are in extremely early stages and try to gather as much feedback as possible as of today. Next version of the website will contain more details about our operations.

Thanks for coming by to post!

Happy to be here!

Please consider this for the front range of Colorado!

Quite a tough area but will consider!

Andriyas, do not be concerned by the comments here. These are people with nothing better to do than post on this blog. They are the opposite of your potential clientele.

Here's an article with lots of photos of the air taxi being developed by Uber: It has vertical takeoff and landing but no rotor on top. I understand that Uber is also developing a pilotless air taxi.


Funny how the #1 clarification on their FAQ is "Is there a pilot? Yes."
You would expect that this would be the biggest differentiation here. The way they have it now, it's just a small helicopter...

It's an electric helicopter. Engines are very expensive to maintain on a normal helicopter. Presumably these would be much cheaper.

That being said, I don't see how they could possibly get the price down to $23 per ride if there's only room for 2 people and a pilot. How much would you have to pay a qualified helicopter pilot in the Bay area?

Hello, founder here!

3D renderings only convey the idea and do not represent an actual aircraft. JWatts was correct in terms of maintenance.

For a website that consists of nothing but breathless hype, they are strangely shy about giving a good closeup of what the futuristic UFO thing you flu in really is like. I think there is a reason for this.

We are in early stages so that's why 3D renderings are crude. As soon as we make progress, we will make sure to post high-res images that represent actual eVTOLs you will be flying in.

The people in the flight path will suffer with little ability to intervene.

However, they have been able to block tunnel boring at 20-50 meters below the surface, which Elon's Boring company's newest boring machine Hope's to do at tenn times the speed of a snail which is faster than a "standard" small bore TBM.

"The people in the flight path will suffer with little ability to intervene."

Yes, having an electric helicopter fly over at 500+ feet is surely going to cause a great amount of pain and suffering. The next thing you know, them darn capitalists will be driving Infernal Combustion Engines by everyone's domicile during sleeping hours and on the weekend!

Kobe Bryant had a way to deal with traffic too.

I'll wait and take my chances with a rocket jetpack, thank you very much

Interesting. For comparison purposes, the $35 and 10 min Toronto to Vaughan route has a public transit alternative. The TTC subway was recently extended north to Vaughan. The Union Station to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre route takes about 45 minutes and costs $CDN 3.25 cash. If you get back on the system within 2 hours of your start then your round trip is $CDN 3.10 (with a prepaid Presto card). The top Google search result says the 26 km takes 23 min by car and about $35 for Uber but getting in or out of the city core is notoriously difficult and 23 min sounds ridiculously optimistic.

So the cost proposition is part FedEx "If You Got To Get There" and part Ford Model-T "Any Starting Location as long as its Black and any Destination as long as its Red, Green, or Blue" but I suspect this can/will change.

Besides this comment being tasteless, 1.25 million people worldwide die every year in traffic accidents.

Electric? Must use a pretty long extension cord.

It’s a virtual cord

Although this particular initiative may not be viable, there are a number of electric helicopters in development. The Robinson R44 conversion is already flying and the Surefly has recently received its FAA test certification. A number of others are in development. Moving forward, you will see people and organisations adopting these aircraft in greater numbers.

According to this site:

The R44 Raven I carries a base list price of $367,000, with dealers typically discounting 3 or 4 percent off list. Paying close to $5 per gallon for 100LL and budgeting realistic amounts for maintenance and the 2200-hour overhaul, the direct operating cost of an R44 is approximately $190 per hour.

These numbers are not obviously unviable but it feels more like a potential lifestyle business than a scalable new transportation option, assuming electric VTOL vehicles have roughly the same CapEx/OpEx long term. Lifestyle businesses can be fun though.

Nevertheless - eppur si muove

Ever hear of Kobe Bryant? Lots of fog in Frisco.

What does basketball have to do with the weather in SF?

Andriyas, I'm impressed that you bothered to seek out this blog and respond to the comments. If you're that motivated, I am sure you will find a way to make this work. Congratulations for actually doing what so many of us would just think of and dismiss.

Ever hear of the FAA? Air traffic control? The Bravo airspace around SFO? Turbulence? Where is the part 121 or part 131 cert?

What happened to this site? The so-called libertarians here seem to hate markets and free enterprise. I applaud the entrepreneurs who dare to create something even if it is not something I would buy myself.

Oh boy! How exciting! A service catering entirely to the rich! Great job trying to solve the huge problems, boys! The world needed this!!

I suspect there will be some cartographic huckstering going on here. We'll see some Clintonesque "it depends on the meaning of is" to define what SF and PA are. "Bro, boundaries are like, ideas and stuff, we're talking about changing the world...or at least cutting off 20 minutes of commute time, in ideal circumstances, given prevailing winds, and not taking into account the transit time to and from the helipad...I mean, evolt area..."

The Ritz-Carlton is also a service catering entirely to the rich. Would you ban it?

In 1895 an automobile was a rich man's toy. By 1920 it was the predominant mode of transportation. A journey of a thousand miles...

Sure, but physics and concerns over noise and safety provide some limits. Helicopters have been around for a while but the problem with them is that they are noisy and expensive because they consume lots of energy. I'm not an engineer but I don't think much can be done about this. If you are flying and hovering at low altitudes, you have to rapidly spin a rotor through the air and that inevitably creates lots of noise and, because of the drag created, consumes lots of energy.

You can make the vehicle lighter so that less energy is required to keep it in the air but then batteries weigh a lot so trying to go electric is difficult unless you only want to fly short distances. But noise will still be an issue, as it is for drones.

Doing a rough calculation based on the web site and some of my own estimates: $25/passenger-half-hour-flight and 6 passengers per flight -> $300/hour revenue. Their operating cost has to be less than this.

You can rent a small plane for $300/hour if you fly it yourself, so these numbers are commensurate, but this isn't a good comparison.

Helicopter service (BLADE) from Manhattan to JFK is $695 for six seats for about a 30 minute flight. That's over 4X the proposed cost of this service. BLADE charges $195 for a single seat, so they could clear close to $1,200 per flight, or, alternatively, they assume a 50% load factor.

I'm willing to believe that electrically powered VTOL flight could work technically. If nothing else fuel and maintenance would cost less than for internal combustion aircraft. There are a number of players in my area working on electrically powered fixed wing flights for short hops. At least one has been FAA certified.

Still, this is rather ambitious pricing. It might make more sense to undercut helicopters by 20-40% rather than competing with Uber or taxis. This could be enough to build volume and get new customers looking into faster transportation.

30 minutes!? I think that's only if you take into account the fact that you have to arrive early and check in for the helicopter ride. Their website says the actual travel time from take-off to landing is as short as 5 minutes.

My main concern is noise, if the noise of this is enough to disturb someone sleeping, I would be strongly against it

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