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Bell Nexus air taxi concept could be Uber's first flying car

A full-size model of the company's flying taxi concept has landed at CES 2019.

2 min read
Lexy Savvides/CNET

"If we're really living in the future, where's my flying car?" is the cry you hear from sci-fi savvy visitors at every CES , if only in self-aware, half-mocking tones. But that refrain gets less relevant every year -- see the EHang 184 from CES 2016, and the Airbus concept the following year. This year's step forward is Bell's Nexus, a concept design for a hybrid electric air taxi.

Watch this: Bell Nexus flying taxi could hit the skies next year

If you guessed that concept design was code for nonfunctional, you guessed right -- but that doesn't mean the Nexus isn't a step forward for flying cars. Bell, the company behind the Nexus, is actually one of the companies on Uber's short list of aircraft manufacturing partners. More importantly, it's the name in helicopter manufacturing, from the original military models in the 1940s to the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor (produced in cooperation with Boeing), which has already bridged the gap between helicopters and winged aircraft.


The Nexus concept shows what the company hopes to build with that experience -- a small, consumer friendly aircraft that comfortably seats four passengers and a pilot. Even so, getting there will take some effort. Not only does the Nexus' six-fan rotor design mean the company will have not rethink flight controls, but there are still a ton of legal barriers to hurdle before flying taxis can get off the ground.

Even so, the company hopes to have its first test flights in early 2020, with consumer deployment following not long after that.

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