During the Convention Electronic Show held in Las Vegas from January 8 to 11, 2019, Bell Helicopter unveiled its new concept of vertical takeoff and landing taxi (VTOL) called Bell Nexus. It is powered by an electric hybrid propulsion system that includes six tilting “rotors”.
« As space at the ground level becomes limited, we must solve transportation challenges in the vertical dimension – and that’s where Bell’s on-demand mobility vision takes hold » said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO, Bell.
According to the helicopter maker, the Nexus denomination means the link between transport and technology, comfort and convenience.
Team Nexus, consisting of Bell, Safran, EPS, Thales, Moog and Garmin, are collaborating on Bell’s VTOL aircraft and on-demand mobility solutions. Bell will lead the design, development and production of the VTOL systems. Safran will provide the hybrid propulsion and drive systems, EPS will provide the energy storage systems, Thales will provide the Flight Control Computer (FCC) hardware and software, Moog will develop the flight control actuation systems and Garmin will integrate the avionics and the vehicle management computer (VMC).
Bell is aiming for a speed of 130 to 170 kt (240 to 320 km/h) and a range of 50 Nm (96 km) for this new concept which should carry up to five passengers. The first prototypes will be tested by 2020 in Dallas and Dubai.
The US company is also considering integrating these “flying taxis” into its chauffeur-driven vehicle booking application.