Like a drone that you sit in – but would you feel safe?

Chris Baraniuk is a writer.
Business reporter with technology.

The image is from Jetson Aero.

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The smallest class of electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles are called personal e VTOLs.

Peter first saw Return of the Jedi at the cinema when he was nine years old. The scene in which the two characters take to hover- bikes on a high-speed chase through a forest left him with a particular impression.

"That has been an important inspiration for me," says Mr Ternstrom, who co-founded Swedish firm Jetson with Tomasz Patan.

The Jetson ONE, his company's prototype personal flying machine, is in action in the video. The clip was viewed more than 12 million times in four weeks.

The location was chosen for its sci-fi feel. There is a military training ground in Poland.

A helmeted pilot sits in the center of a large drone with multiple spinning rotors. The craft is blowing up dust.

This is an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle. Personal e VTOLs are among the smallest rideable aircraft around and have the capacity to transport just one pilot.

The small size of the vehicle helps to keep the price down, but there is more to it than that. Ultra-light vehicles with a maximum speed of 55kts (63mph; 101km/h) can be flown without a pilot's certificate in the US, according to the FAA.

Jetson Aero is the image source.

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The founder of Jetson, Peter Ternstrom, was inspired by the Return of the Jedi.

Jetson and a number of other firms are taking this route in order to get their products on the market. Will these flying machines be safe if anyone can buy one?

Mr Ternstrom is being slightly more cautious than he is required to be. The first Jetson ONEs will be sold in 2023, but the founder wants the first owners to be people with a pilot's licence.

He says that if you have previous experience, they will let you buy one. He says these people will beambassadors for the brand. Everyone who buys one will get a two-day training course in Tuscany, Italy.

Prospective owners have shown a lot of interest. Jetson had taken pre-orders for 118 aircraft three and a half weeks after the video was published.

20 minutes of flight time on a fully charged battery is offered by the Jetson ONE. Mr Ternstrom thinks this will increase to 30 minutes in a couple of years. crumple zones around the pilot's seat are built to cushion the impact of a low-altitude crash.

Jetson Aero is the image source.

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Customers with a pilots licence will be the first to get the Jetson ONE.

After losing one of its propellers, the vehicle can continue flying, though pilots will be forced to land immediately.

On-board software will try to prevent dangerous flying. The software slows the vehicle down as it approaches the ground, and uses a Lidar system to sense how far away the ground actually is.

The first owners must have some flying experience in order for things to go well.

He says that the machine is made for messing with. I want them to be responsible.

The Civil Aviation Authority expects the first flights of e VTOL vehicles in the UK to begin within five years.

David Tait, head of innovation at the CAA, says it is vital that a strong safety culture is built into the heart of e VTOL vehicles.

The Jetson ONE is not the only vehicle in development. The single-seater BlackFly will soon be brought to market by the US-based company Opener.

opener's first priority is safety, says a spokeswoman Adoption of eVTOL technology is not possible without it. Before the company will allow them to fly, new owners will have to take a training course.

TeTra is the image source.

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The TeTra Mark 5 is a kit.

The TeTra Mk5 uses a combination of rotors and fixed wings to power itself. It's too heavy to be considered an ultralight. It comes as kit-aircraft so must be assembled by the new owner, meaning that TeTra can sell the vehicle in the US without having to obtain full aircraft certification.

"That's why we're making the kit planes," says Tasuku Nakai, chief executive at TeTra.

Full aircraft certification can be a long process for some companies. An Israeli firm is designing a two-seater eVTOL. Rani Plaut says his company has been working with the FAA for two and a half years. He says the certification process takes so long because it is a new frontier for flying machines.

The AIR ONE is designed to keep flying even if it loses one of its components.

"If the worst happens, we have a parachute system," says Mr Plaut. He says the firm wants to deliver its first vehicle to customers in 2024.

The image is from the air.

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The company hopes to have its first aircraft ready for customers by the year 2024.

Hundreds of hours of test flights are required for many of these vehicles. It's not clear how responsible their new owners will be when they take them out for a ride.

Most aircraft accidents are caused by the user. Darrell Swanson, director of the aviation consulting firm, says that he hopes the manufacturers put into place safeguards to limit the ability for a user to put the aircraft in an unsafe operating condition.

The relatively easy route to market that these small eVTOLs are taking will get them into people's hands quickly, and allow early adopters to have some fun.

He says that it's all good in the near-term. If these aircraft are to play a role in improving urban mobility for city populations, they will have to carry more passengers, complement public transport, and be more accessible. The price will go up and it will be seen as snobbery.

The image is from Jeston Aero.

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Personal eVTOLs are not likely to be flown in cities in the near future.

Mr Ternstrom is happy to market the Jetson ONE as a recreational vehicle. He says it's for having fun. Everyone has had a dream where they can fly.

He says that the thing makes that dream possible. It's awesome. I love it.

There are drones.
Air travel.