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Rolls-Royce EVTOL flying taxi concept packs electric propulsion

Its electrical system gets juice from an onboard gas turbine.

Since this concept is only meant to show off its propulsion system, a production version could end up looking wildly different.
Rolls-Royce plc

Rolls-Royce plc -- the company in charge of aircraft propulsion, not the automaker -- was not only a partner on Aston Martin's new flying car concept, it has one of its own, as well.

At the Farnborough Airshow on Monday, Rolls-Royce plc debuted its EVTOL concept in digital form. EVTOL stands for electric vertical takeoff and landing, and it's basically a flying taxi relying on Rolls-Royce plc's new propulsion system, which mates electric propulsion to a more traditional method of charging it.

Packing around 500 kW of electric power, the EVTOL concept relies on six rotors that provide vertical and horizontal propulsion. The concept gets its electric power from a M250 gas turbine, which means it can rely on traditional fueling infrastructure at airports to make sure it has enough juice. It can reportedly scoot about at speeds of up to 250 mph.

While the concept seen here can hold between four and five adults, Rolls-Royce plc won't be making any flying taxis on its own, as the concept is largely just to show off its new propulsion system. According to the BBC, Rolls-Royce plc is looking for two different partners on the project -- one to focus on the airframe, and one to focus on part of the electrical system. Considering Aston Martin designed its own VTOL craft this week with Rolls' help, perhaps there's something in the works over there.

How far away from production is something like this? According to the manufacturer, not too far. Rolls-Royce plc estimates that something based on the EVTOL concept could be ready for commercial use as early as the mid 2020s, provided there's a "viable commercial model." Right now, there are still so many things standing between companies and their visions of flying taxis that the idea still seems a bit far-fetched. At least the underlying tech is getting there.

Using a hybrid-electric propulsion system could help it better mesh with the infrastructure already in place, as opposed to requiring a reinvention of the wheel.

Rolls-Royce plc