During Uber’s Elevate Summit in April 2017, a Detroit-based aircraft company and an automotive company from the same city announced a venture into the urban mobility space. A newly formed firm, Airspace Experience Technologies LLC (AirSpaceX), would have a new VTOL aircraft to go with it: MOBi-ONE.
A subscale model of MOBi-ONE was recently unveiled to the public by AirSpaceX, which is officially a subsidiary of Detroit Aircraft Corp. But it didn’t debut at an aerospace event. Instead, it was revealed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
AirSpaceX founder and CEO Jon Rimanelli said during the Elevate Summit that the company receives funding from a U.S.-based automotive OEM, leaving it unnamed.
“Our goal is to deploy 2,500 aircraft at the nation’s 50 largest cities by 2026, targeting existing infrastructure at first,” said JP Yorro, COO at AirSpaceX. “The MOBi development program will be capital intensive, but air Mobility as a Service could generate billions for the economy. We are considering a broad array of financing options, including potential fractional ownership interest and profit-sharing models.”
MOBi-ONE would be designed to transport passengers or cargo to and from urban locations within 60 miles. It would be able to fly at a top speed of 250 mph, using existing electric vehicle architecture and autonomous technologies, according to Detroit Aircraft Corp. The company continued to say that recent advances in electric propulsion, automation and lightweight materials make a futuristic aircraft like this possible.
“MOBi-ONE will offer clean, quiet and connected on-demand air mobility to the mass traveling public at an affordable price,” said Rimanelli. “Our vision is to mass produce aircraft leveraging lean automotive design and mass production techniques so our vehicles are affordable to the mass traveling public.”
According to Detroit Aircraft Corp., it designed and built MOBi-ONE at Detroit City Airport. AirSpaceX teamed with Camilo Pardo, chief designer of the 2005 and 2006 Ford GT, for the aircraft’s design. Pardo and Rimanelli began working together in 2011, prototyping and developing several VTOL concepts over the years, Detroit Aircraft Corp. said.
The company plans to manufacture a full-scale aircraft following completion of engineering packages. It would then undergo FAA Part 27 certification and be operated by AirSpaceX.