French autonomous shuttles now running without on-board supervisor

French autonomous shuttles now running without on-board supervisor

EasyMile’s autonomous shuttle service at the Oncopole healthcare and cancer research campus in the French city of Toulouse has started operating without an on-board supervisor.

The announcement follows eight months of running a trial service in which the shuttle, operating with a supervisor, took passengers on a 600m route connecting a remote car park and the campus main entrance. The shuttle shared the road with cyclists, pedestrians, cars and buses.

The company says its shuttles are equipped with appropriate levels of safety and system redundancies to operate efficiently in a wide range of environments.

The aim is for a control centre to supervise multiple vehicles from anywhere, making it possible to scale to autonomous vehicles without additional manpower.

According to EasyMile, the service is fully flexible as vehicles can be deployed immediately as demand arises, without having to wait for operators to be available.

EasyMile’s general manager Benoit Perrin says, “This is an important step towards real commercialisation of autonomous driving, both on large private sites, as well as on public roads. The applications for our technology to move people and goods continue to grow, especially in locations like campuses, business parks, industrial sites and master planned communities.”

The deployment is part of SAM (Safety and Acceptability of Autonomous Driving and Mobility), a project in which members like Alstom, Keolis and Transdev are working to develop uses of these systems while also building the future regulatory framework.

BMW hybrids automatically switch to all-electric drive in 138 European cities

BMW hybrids automatically switch to all-electric drive in 138 European cities

BMW has expanded its eDrive Zones to a further 20 cities around Europe, including Copenhagen, Verona, and Toulouse.

Using a combination of navigation and geo-fencing, a plug-in hybrid BMW will automatically know when it enters an eDrive Zone and automatically switch to an all-electric drive.

First introduced to London in August 2020, the latest 20 cities to benefit from the technology are Aberdeen, Bregenz, Brescia, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Cork, Coventry, Florence, Klagenfurt, Lille, Matosinhos, Naples, Oeiras, Oxford, Sheffield, St. Pölten, Toulouse and Verona.

This brings the total number of eDrive Zones across Europe to 138 and BMW has plans to roll out the zones in “at least” another 30 cities worldwide in 2022.

Commenting at the time of the UK launch of eDrive Zones, Pieter Nota, BMW AG board member for Customer, Brands, Sales said, “This is the flexibility that customers want, as they make the transition to electromobility. A plug-in hybrid vehicle combines the best of two worlds – emission-free city-driving as well as long-distance capabilities.”

Copenhagen sees new hydrogen taxis as rolling showcase for green transition

Copenhagen sees new hydrogen taxis as rolling showcase for green transition

Toyota and Danish taxi service DRIVR have put more than 100 Toyota Mirai hydrogen taxis on the roads in Copenhagen.

The Danish government aims to have no new taxis emitting CO2 or air pollution from 2025, while all taxis must be zero-emission by 2030.

App-based taxi service DRIVR already allows customers to choose between hailing a ride in hybrid, electric, or hydrogen-powered cars.

“There is no doubt that the taxi industry is a key driver of the green transition. They are in constant operation and travel many kilometres, especially in the big cities every single day. The switch from black diesel to green hydrogen ensures the same operation and flexible mobility, just without harmful emissions,” says Tejs Laustsen Jensen, CEO Hydrogen Denmark.

“The many new taxis help create the necessary take-off of hydrogen at the service stations, which is essential for the development of the infrastructure. And then the taxis are rolling showcases for green hydrogen technology, which is an area where the strong Danish value chain of subcontractors is among the world’s best.”

DRIVR has also been chosen by the City of Copenhagen to act as the city’s “ad-hoc taxi service,” meaning that children with disabilities, mentally challenged citizens, citizens on their way to the hospital, municipal employees on duty and politicians will in future be transported completely emission-free in hydrogen cars when driving by taxi.

“We are incredibly proud that DRIVR has been entrusted with the important task of helping the municipality drive Copenhagen greener, and we are very grateful for the cooperation with Toyota, which has enabled us to fulfil the task of the many new Toyota Mirai hydrogen cars,” says Haydar Shaiwandi, DRIVR’s CEO.

The Toyota Mirai taxis seem to be garnering attention, as well. The company says that there is a “growing interest in hydrogen cars in the taxi industry.”

The taxi service has come as a result of the Hydrogen Mobility Europe 2 and Zero Emission Fleet vehicles For European Rollout projects, supported by The Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Joint Undertaking. The project aims to spread hydrogen solutions for transport across the EU and has contributed to both wagons and hydrogen refuelling stations in Denmark.

Valeo next generation LiDAR will offer “previously unseen” levels of road safety

Valeo next generation LiDAR will offer “previously unseen” levels of road safety

French automotive technology supplier Valeo has unveiled its third generation scanning LiDAR, due to make its market debut in 2024.

Valeo’s technology reconstructs a 3D real-time image of the vehicle’s surroundings at a rate of 4.5m pixels and 25 frames per second, giving a resolution 12 times greater than the previous generation.

Valeo says its new LiDAR “can see things humans, cameras and radars cannot,” and that “driving can be delegated to the vehicle in many situations at road at speeds of up to 130km/h” and that even in such situations, “a vehicle fitted with the third generation scanning LiDAR can manage emergency situations autonomously.”

Valeo’s scanning LiDAR detects, recognises and classifies all objects located around the car. If the objects are moving, it measures their speed and direction. The scanning LiDAR can adapt to all light conditions, whether dazzlingly bright or pitch black. It also measures density of raindrops to calculate the right braking distance.

It tracks nearby vehicles, even when they are no longer in the driver’s line of sight and uses algorithms to anticipate their trajectories and trigger necessary safety manoeuvres.

Geoffrey Bouquot, Valeo’s Senior Vice-President, R&D and Strategy said, “Valeo’s third generation LiDAR is a major technological advance toward the autonomous vehicle. This upgrade strengthens Valeo’s technological and industrial leadership in the field.”

Valeo’s LiDARs are produced at its Wemding plant in Bavaria. Valeo claims to remain the only company to have produced a scanning LiDAR on an industrial scale and says 99% of cars equipped with a scanning LiDAR worldwide are equipped with a Valeo LiDAR.

Forecasts suggest up to 30% of premium new vehicles will reach level 3 autonomy by 2030 and the LiDAR market could be worth $50 billion by this date.

Singapore and Airbus to study feasibility for hydrogen-powered aircraft operations

Singapore and Airbus to study feasibility for hydrogen-powered aircraft operations

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus are to launch a feasibility study on hyrdrogen-powered aircraft operations as part of a wider collaboration on sustainable aviation.

The feasibility study will run for two years, says the CAAS, and explore the concept of an airport hydrogen hub, as well as the infrastructure requirements for hydrogen-powered aircraft in the future.

“These include the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen, aircraft ground services, logistical equipment, and refuelling systems,” the authority states.  “The study will examine how these requirements can be planned and provisioned for in airport development, whether upfront or in stages to provide optionality as the technology is developed.”

Calling the partnership an “important pathfinder” for a sustainable aviation sector, CAAS director-general Han Kok Juan said, “Decarbonisation is a key priority for international aviation. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild an aviation sector that is more sustainable. It is not a question of whether but of how to make flying greener and developing concrete pathways to achieve that goal while ensuring that air travel is still accessible.”

Airbus chief technical officer Sabine Klauke added, “The decarbonisation of our industry requires a combination of approaches, hydrogen being one of them, and will need unprecedented cross-sector collaboration to create the new aviation infrastructure ecosystem.”

Electric cargo ship will take 40,000 truck journeys from Norway’s roads

Electric cargo ship will take 40,000 truck journeys from Norway’s roads

The world’s first all-electric, autonomous cargo ship launched in Norway this week. The Yara Birkeland made a short, crewed trip to the capital of Oslo as part of its unveiling, with work to now begin on certifying it as an autonomous container vessel ahead of commencing commercial operations.

As a joint venture between chemical production firm Yara and maritime technology company Kongsberg, the Yara Birkeland was announced back in 2017 as the world’s first all-electric and autonomous container ship.

The plan is to use the ship to ferry chemicals and fertiliser from Yara’s production plant in Prosgrunn to nearby towns, making significant reductions in NOx and CO2 emissions by negating the need for diesel-powered truck transport.

The 80m-long vessel is powered by a 6.8-mWh battery pack and can carry up to 3,200 tons at a maximum speed of 28 km/h.

Yara is looking at the potential to utilise stocks of ammonia used in its fertiliser production to develop a zero-carbon fuel source. “Renewable energy was our starting point in 1905, now, ammonia can bring us back to our roots,” says Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, CEO of Yara Clean Ammonia. “Our large shipping network and existing infrastructure means that ammonia has the potential to become the leading fuel for long-distance shipping globally,”

The Yara Birkeland’s maiden voyage saw it travel from the town of Horten to Oslo, a journey of around 70 km. The inaugural voyage was attended by government officials including Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

“We are proud to be able to showcase the world’s first fully electric and self-propelled container ship,” says Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara. “It will cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips by diesel-powered trucks a year.”

With its first voyage behind it, the Yara Birkeland will commence commercial operations in 2022, while a two-year testing period will take place alongside designed to certify it as an autonomous vehicle. Technology company Kongsberg will be responsible for integrating the sensors and other systems for autonomous navigation, with the pathway to full autonomy to also include a phase of remote operation.

“Yara Birkeland will transport mineral fertiliser between Porsgrunn and Brevik and will contribute to significant emission cuts during transport,” says Holsether. “This is an excellent example of green transition in practice, and we hope this ship will be the start of a new type of emission-free container ships. There are a lot of places in the world with congested roads that will benefit from a high-tech solution like this.”

Scotland’s Forth Road Bridge autonomous bus trial passes key milestone

Scotland’s Forth Road Bridge autonomous bus trial passes key milestone

British bus manufacturing company Alexander Dennis, one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, this week previewed its autonomous bus that will launch in Scotland next year.

It is the next key milestone in the CAVForth trial which will see full-sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time.

The new service, developed in partnership with Stagecoach, Fusion Processing and Transport Scotland, will be made up of four Alexander Dennis Enviro200 single deck buses running a 14-mile point to point route crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge.

It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife with the Edinburgh Park transport hub and is expected, says Alexander Dennis, to be popular with commuters, students, day trippers and tourists as well as “novelty riders keen to be first to say they have been driven by a computer”.

The new service is designed to make it easy for people to switch to public transport and comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit where bus operator Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people “switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking”.

The four Enviro200 buses are currently being fitted out with sensor and control technology developed supplied by project lead, Fusion Processing. The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.

The design of the livery is intended to ensure the vehicles stand out on the road but still feels like a regular bus while also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Stagecoach, Fusion Processing, ADL, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England, as well as the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles as funding partner.

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing CEO, said, “CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology. The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4, full sized buses. The buses will be operating on a 28-mile round trip that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights. We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date.”

Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme Dey added, “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”

Ionity opens charging technology test centre to tackle network fragmentation

Ionity opens charging technology test centre to tackle network fragmentation

Munich-based EV charging provider Ionity says its new test centre in Unterschleissheim, Germany, is the world’s first to provide “end-to-end” testing of EV charging to “tackle network fragmentation”.

Ionity says it commissions chargers from various manufacturers to develop networks for its electric vehicle partners including BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, who all have different requirements.

“Every company interprets interface standards slightly differently. In our test centre, we can closely examine all steps in the charging process – from authentication and power transfer to the end of charging – and get feedback on any incompatibilities or issues,” said Laurence Langenbrink, Lead Testing Services at Ionity.

The 5000 m2 test centre outside Munich will undertake validation and interoperability tests between electric vehicles and charging stations as well as regression and software tests. This makes it possible, says Ionity, to perform tests on almost all high power charging (HPC) stations available on the European market in one location.

All tests are closely monitored and logged, and the charging processes are recorded in detail by the test equipment. Currently, Ionity is developing use cases and flowcharts for tests on various hardware models. The goal is to offer EV drivers the highest possible reliability at all Ionity locations, regardless of the vehicle manufacturer, and to use new technology only after it has successfully passed its own tests.

Gaussin enters hydrogen truck into 2022 Dakar Rally

Gaussin enters hydrogen truck into 2022 Dakar Rally

French zero-emission truck developer Gaussin has announced it will be the first to enter a hydrogen powered truck into the extreme endurance off road Dakar Rally.

According to Gaussin, it is entering its H2 Racing Truck into the 2022 desert-crossing race as “a technology carrier” for further developing its planned road truck range.

Based on a new skateboard platform for BEV and FCEV trucks from 18 to 44 tons, the H2 Racing Truck will be a four-wheel-drive variant combining two 300 kW electric motors with an 82-kWh battery pack and a 380-kW fuel cell.

The system also includes a cooling system and tanks able to hold 80 kilograms of hydrogen. Gaussin expects to achieve a range of around 250 km under racing conditions running at a top speed of 140 km/h across sand dunes.

The manufacturer says that the lightweight chassis was specially created for the performance and integration of the hydrogen system. The latter, it says, has been tested with racing conditions in mind under extreme conditions “that go far beyond manufacturers’ usual tests for road use.”

The French firm had engaged the Italian design house Pininfarina to “create a completely new cabin concept that stands for driver comfort and safety and at the same time intelligently combines with the platform.”

Gaussin says it is developing four other models based on the platform, a tractor unit, an autonomous truck, a distribution vehicle and a construction vehicle. Under non-racing conditions the range is expected to increase to 800 kilometres. Alternatively, Gaussin is working on battery EV versions incorporating a battery swap system, which should have a range of 400 kilometres with a battery exchange taking just three minutes.

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt produces fully recycled battery cell

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt produces fully recycled battery cell

Swedish manufacturer Northvolt has announced it has produced its first lithium-ion battery cell using 100% recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt in which the recycling process can recover up to 95% of the metals in a battery to “a level of purity on par with fresh virgin material.”

“What we have shown here is a clear pathway to closing the loop on batteries and that there exists a sustainable, environmentally-preferable alternative to conventional mining in order to source raw materials for battery production,” said Northvolt chief environmental officer Emma Nehrenheim, who heads the company’s Revolt recycling programme.

A statement from Northvolt — which is part-owned by Volkswagen, BMW and Goldman Sachs — said the development “stands as a breakthrough for the battery industry and a milestone for Northvolt in its mission to establish a sustainable supply of batteries to support the decarbonisation of society”.

A new facility, named Revolt Ett — “Ett” meaning “One” in Swedish — will be the only large-scale plant in Europe capable of recycling lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, copper, aluminium and plastics.

“With construction beginning in early 2022 and operations from 2023, the recycling plant will receive incoming material for recycling from two sources: end-of-life batteries from electric vehicles and production scrap from Northvolt Ett,” the statement said.

“Recycled nickel, manganese and cobalt metals used in the battery cell are recovered from battery waste through a low-energy hydrometallurgical treatment, which involves the use of an aqueous solution to isolate the metals and separate them from impurities,” the statement continued.

It will also recover lithium, copper, aluminium, and plastics from the batteries and materials it recycles – all of which will be recirculated back into manufacturing through local third parties.

“As the electric vehicle revolution gains speed,” says Nehrenheim, “some 250,000 tons of batteries will reach their end-of-life in Europe by 2030.

“In this, some see challenges and obstacles. At Northvolt, we see opportunity. Similar to how we’ve found novel, sustainable solutions for the handling of salt by-product at Northvolt Ett – treating it as a valuable product and not waste – the same is true with end-of-life batteries. Ultimately, a commitment to circularity will not only significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the battery industry, but also contribute to our vision to set a new benchmark for sustainability in manufacturing.”

Integrated PV meets 5-10 per cent of 18t truck’s energy needs

Integrated PV meets 5-10 per cent of 18t truck’s energy needs

An 18-ton truck equipped with a 3.5kW photovoltaic system on its roof has been approved for use on Germany’s roads.

The solar power produced directly by the vehicle could meet 5 to 10 percent of its energy needs, says the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), which developed the solar modules and power electronics.

“With the successful commissioning of our high-voltage photovoltaic system, we have achieved our goal of demonstrating the feasibility of vehicle-integrated photovoltaics for heavy-duty e-commercial vehicles. The components integrated into the truck work as expected,” explains Christoph Kutter, project manager at Fraunhofer ISE.

The particularly lightweight and robust PV module prototypes developed by Fraunhofer ISE were built by Sunset Energietechnik. To create the first demonstrator vehicle, TBV Kühlfahrzeuge has integrated the modules into the box body of a Framo electric truck.

The roof-mounted solar modules are connected in series to ensure that current yields are high but the material and cabling costs are low, meaning the resulting voltages of up to 400 volts could pose a safety risk in the event of an accident. Key to gaining approval for use on public roads was the development of safe power management and a specially developed disconnection device.

The truck is now being put through its paces in daily use by electronics systems developer Alexander Bürkle operating in the Freiburg area. It will be tested for a year to validate the electricity yield forecasts and monitor the components under real conditions. Furthermore, the trial will help validate an energy forecast model “IVImon” developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, which manages the range, charging times and power generation for different routes depending on the consumption in the vehicle and the solar generation.

Swedish automotive safety products manufacturer pilots fossil-free steel components

Swedish automotive safety products manufacturer pilots fossil-free steel components

Swedish automotive safety products manufacturer Autoliv and Stockholm-based global steel company SSAB, have announced a collaboration to research and develop fossil-free steel components for safety products, such as airbags and seatbelts.

A new process aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed to generate heat for ore-based steelmaking, with hydrogen.

The result will be the world’s first fossil-free steelmaking technology, with no carbon footprint. SSAB aims to start supplying the market with fossil-free steel at a commercial scale in 2026.

A pilot plant has already produced small volumes of iron using hydrogen.

Mikael Bratt, President and CEO of Autoliv, says, “We are committed to becoming carbon neutral in our own operations by 2030 and furthermore aim for net-zero emissions across our supply chain by 2040. This means reducing our carbon emissions through use of renewable electricity in our own and supplier operations, improving energy and materials efficiency and adopting low carbon logistics and low carbon materials. We are now turning our commitment into action and are well-positioned to continue supporting our customers and partners to reach their sustainability goals. Gradually switching to fossil-free steel in our products is an important step towards achieving our climate targets.”

Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB, adds, “We are looking forward to working with Autoliv and to start the process of research and development of innovative fossil-free steel components for their automotive safety products. We are initiating a number of pilot projects together with Autoliv with the aim to reduce climate impact and strengthen competitiveness.”

Tech-enabled door-to-door journeys have potential to stimulate Florida’s economic development

Tech-enabled door-to-door journeys have potential to stimulate Florida’s economic development

Brightline Rail, a privately run inter-city rail service in Florida, is launching Brightline+, a seamless Rail-orientated Mobility as a Service (MaaS) package that enables the planning, purchase, and fulfilment of door-to-door journeys across its high-speed rail network connecting Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and soon to be Orlando.

Brightline+ is underpinned by Iomob’s open mobility on demand and journey planner platform which “supercharges” the existing Brightline app.

The deployment, says Spain-based Iomob, is a milestone for a number of reasons – it is the first of its kind in the US and is a testament to Brightline’s ambition of bringing high-speed rail, as an attractive alternative to the car, to Florida and beyond.

It also demonstrates the potential impact on the local economy in and around Miami, making it an interesting test case for MaaS globally. Miami Mayor, Frances Suarez said in a recent statement, “the debut of Brightline+ is a key component to transforming Miami into a major technology hub in the US,” and “with this new innovation in transportation, we are connecting Miami like never before, providing endless business opportunities for the entire region of South Florida.”

Iomob’s “open and interoperable marketplace” seamlessly combines rail journeys with electric shuttle services, taxis, bikes, scooters, buses and metro in one app user experience designed to make the mobility easier and more attractive.

In addition to supporting an “easier commute”, Brightline’s integrated offer is symbolic of a new wave of business and leisure travel. With upwards of 70% of US citizens commuting by single occupancy cars even before the pandemic, the potential for a seamless experience which supports the customer from the moment they leave their house to the moment they arrive at the office, Brightline+ will be seriously disruptive to the living and working lives of South Floridians.

Iomob’s approach is to “supercharge” the apps and platforms of our clients… “We boast an agnostic approach, meaning our technology can be used in multiple apps by multiple clients in a single region, city, or country. Moreover with more than eight modes, 7000 providers, and 270 cities (and growing), the Iomob platform can serve a wide geographic audience with unmatched depth of services.

“With Brightline+, Iomob is proud to be powering a door-to-door solution which can have great impact on the surrounding businesses and communities. We are excited to see many of the above possibilities come to fruition in the South Florida area and are thrilled to have seen such support from local business thus far.”

Wright Electric plans 100-seat fully-electric regional flights from 2026

Wright Electric plans 100-seat fully-electric regional flights from 2026

US start-up Wright Electric has announced plans for a 100-seat fully-electric regional jet that could be in service from 2026. The electric aeroplane, named Wright Spirit, is an electric-powered version of the BAe 146 regional jet originally manufactured by BAE Systems.

The Wright Spirit is based on a conversion of the four-engine aircraft, creating a retrofit regional aircraft that is expected to have a flight time of one hour and a range of about 750 km.

Wright Electric early last year announced it had conceived a viable electric megawatt propulsion system, opening up the prospect of commercial fully-electric regional jets. Since then the company says it has tested key components of the system, including a high-power density inverter and a 2 MW motor.

Commenting on the current plans for the 100-seat regional electric aircraft, Wright CEO Jeff Engler said, “Because we built the world’s largest aerospace propulsive powertrain, we can build the world’s largest zero-emissions retrofit directly serving the world’s busiest routes.”

By concentrating on one-hour flights, the Wright Spirit could be suitable for some of the world’s busiest city connections such as Seoul – Jeju, London – Paris, Rio de Janeiro – São Paulo, San Francisco – Los Angeles. “We can make a significant impact on global emissions by targeting this high-demand segment of the market,” says Engler.

The company’s planned larger 186-seat commercial aircraft named Wright 1, which is a completely newly designed aircraft, is due to enter service in 2030 with an estimated range of 1,300 km.

Ferrovial to develop 25 vertiports across the UK

Ferrovial to develop 25 vertiports across the UK

Global infrastructure operator Ferrovial has announced plans to build a network of 25 eVTOL vertiports across the United Kingdom.

The project will provide dedicated sites for eVTOL aircraft to take off, land, and recharge. The vertiports are expected to integrate with other transportation modes to better connect cities and regions across the UK.

Ferrovial has partnered with international architecture practice Grimshaw and global engineering, management, and development consultancy Mott MacDonald to develop the design and engineering components of the vertiport infrastructure.

UK-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace says Ferrovial’s vertiports will facilitate the launch of operations with its VA-X4, a piloted, four-passenger, fully electric aircraft that Virgin Atlantic has selected for its future UK air taxi service.

“Our partnership with Ferrovial is an important step forward in bringing the VA-X4 to the skies,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of Vertical, in a press release. “Creating the right infrastructure for zero-emissions aviation is a critical part in making urban air mobility a reality.”

Vertical also confirmed a collaboration with Heathrow Airport to explore the launch of its services from the airport by the mid-2020s. Ferrovial, which has interests in 33 airports worldwide, holds the largest shareholder stake in Heathrow, as well as having part ownership of Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Southampton airports in the UK.

In addition to working with Vertical Aerospace, Ferrovial said it has a collaboration agreement with the German eVTOL developer Lilium to “enable a fast and pragmatic deployment plan.”

“The partnership between vertiports and eVTOLs will provide high-speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people,” said Kevin Cox, who was recently appointed CEO of Ferrovial Vertiports. “This network will boost local economies with a new model of regional connectivity.”

Stuttgart Airport added to southern German air mobility network

Stuttgart Airport added to southern German air mobility network

Munich-based eVTOL developer Lilium has announced that Stuttgart Airport will become a hub for a planned regional air mobility network in southern Germany using its seven-seat eVTOL Lilium Jet. Stuttgart is set to become a key node in a previously announced network that already includes Munich and Nuremberg airports.

Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lilium said, “Fully electric and ultra-quiet Lilium Jets will connect passengers from Stuttgart, Munich and Nuremberg more closely with neighbouring cities and regions.”

The six-passenger Lilium Jet is projected to fly with zero operating emissions at a maximum range of 250km and a cruise speed of 280 km/h.

The Lilium Jet is currently undergoing concurrent type certification processes with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), aiming for its first passenger services to launch in 2024. Lilium claims ticket prices will be comparable to conventional transport methods in the medium term.

“We want people in our region to get to their destinations in the best possible way and to have a wide choice of modes of transport,” said Dr Arina Freitag, managing director of Stuttgart Airport. “That is why we are developing Stuttgart Airport into a unique hub for sustainable and innovative forms of mobility. The regional and supra-regional high-speed connections with small electric aircraft, such as those planned by Lilium, are a very promising addition to the Stuttgart location.”

Dr Florian Stegmann, Minister of State and Head of the State Chancellery of the State of Baden-Württemberg added, “We see the opportunities that such modern mobility concepts can bring. What is certain is that flying in the future must be climate-friendly and safe.”

Through its Air Mobility Initiative, the Bavarian State Government will provide €100 million for research and development. Minister of State Dr Florian Herrmann, Head of the Bavarian State Chancellery, says, “Electric air shuttles are innovative, environmentally conscious and set the tone for our future. They open up completely new ways of travelling and can enrich our mobility with a state-of-the-art alternative. By building a network across transport systems, we create great potential for quiet, emission-free and fast mobility.”

Lilium has also planned a western German network with Cologne Bonn and Düsseldorf airports, and is collaborating with Ferrovial on a network of vertiports in Florida, with the first passenger flights expected to start there in 2024.

Lilium also recently announced a planned strategic alliance with major Brazilian airline Azul to build an eVTOL network in Brazil, expected to start operations in 2025.

Japan’s SkyDrive starts safety and environmental certification process

Japan’s SkyDrive starts safety and environmental certification process

Japanese flying car startup SkyDrive is the first eVTOL developer to apply for a key safety certificate for its single-seat SD-03 from Japan’s regulator, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT). The type certificate will signify the aircraft is in compliance with applicable safety and environmental standards.

In a press statement, SkyDrive said, “Certification is only granted after the aircraft had gone through a battery of studies and tests, including strength tests and flight tests.” It is the first time the MLIT has accepted a certificate application for an eVTOL car.

SkyDrive currently runs a cargo drone service in Japan. The company aims to launch a flying taxi service with the SD-03 in Japan’s Osaka Bay area in 2025.

The current SD-03 can fly up to 10 minutes at a top speed of 50 km/h. The company’s near-term goal is to raise the vehicle’s speed to 60km/h and extend flight duration to 30 minutes.

It also plans to roll out a two-seater commercial model sometime in 2023, the year which the Japanese government expects to introduce flying taxi services in dense cities including Tokyo and Osaka.

The SD-3 is a lot smaller than other eVTOL prototypes and SkyDrive says its goal “is to develop the world’s smallest flying car model, approximately 2m high, 4m wide, and 4m long.”

UK startup develops EV scale power bank

UK startup develops EV scale power bank

UK startup ZipCharge has developed a suitcase sized power bank on wheels allowing EV drivers to top up their vehicles to get them to the next charge point.

The equivalent to a can of petrol in the boot of the car, the Go charger is the brainchild of ZipCharge founders Richie Sibal and Jonathan Carrier, both veterans of product development for the automotive industry, having worked for the likes of McLaren Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, the Gordon Murray Group and LEVC.

An aluminum spaceframe protects its major systems, and the outer shell for the production units will be made from post-consumer plastic waste. There’s a carry handle on one side and the charging ports and status LEDs on the other, and a telescoping handle up top. It rolls on two wheels for ease of transport.

Users can charge the Go’s 4-kWh NMC battery using a standard domestic plug, which should mean a lower cost per kWh than offered at a public charging station. When fully charged, the Go can be wheeled out any plug-in hybrid or EV with a Type 2 socket and cabled up to top up the car’s battery.

The powerbank, says ZipCharge, should provide an EV with about 30 km of range in 30-60 minutes and a larger system is in development. The Go can be stowed in the boot until needed, and is claimed to work in all normal weather conditions.

A bi-directional AC-DC inverter allows the power bank to store cheap off-peak energy from the grid, and feed it back to the grid during peak hours. There’s a comms module built in that supports smart charging, over-the-air updates, remote diagnostics, and features geo-fencing capabilities and tracking technology. It comes with 4G mobile connectivity that allows users to remotely manage the power bank via a companion app, while AI will learn a user’s charging habits over time and make scheduling recommendations to take advantage of off-peak electricity availability.

Currently in the final stages of development, ZipCharge is aiming to get the Go out to its first customers in late 2022. The Go will be available to buy or through a monthly subscription.

The portable charger, says ZipCharge, is the first component in a global portable EV charging platform that the company is intending to set up, which will include hardware, software, machine learning and novel ownership models.

CNG Fuels announces UK hydrogen fuel trials

CNG Fuels announces UK hydrogen fuel trials

UK supplier of alternative low-carbon fuels for HGVs CNG Fuels has announced plans to host hydrogen fuel trials across its national network of public access refuelling stations, in a bid to support the future decarbonisation of HGVs. The first trials are due to begin in mid-2022, with the company currently in discussions with international partners.

By 2025, says CNG Fuels, it plans to allocate 100 acres of its land to public access hydrogen refuelling. And a new branch, HyFuels, has been established to identify the best hydrogen production pathways and infrastructure solutions for HGVs, to support customers in adopting hydrogen quickly and easily once it becomes commercially viable.

HyFuels is already said to be in “advanced discussions” with major international providers of both hydrogen infrastructure and the fuel to deploy its first trials. Among the first initiatives will be a number of hydrogen-ready mobile refuelling units that are able to quickly deliver hydrogen to refuelling sites on demand.

According to the website Auto Futures, findings from the trials will be used to inform UK government, industry, and existing customers on the effectiveness of different hydrogen solutions and outline key infrastructure considerations for a hydrogen refuelling network.

CNG Fuels already supports major fleets with 100% renewable biomethane sourced from food waste and manure across its UK-wide network of public access refuelling stations. Major brands in the UK reported to be already on board include the John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose, Hermes, Warburtons, and Royal Mail.

CNG Fuels CEO Philip Fjeld notes that HGVs account for 5% of all UK emissions, “making their decarbonisation one of the single most important things the UK can do to meet our net zero ambitions”.

Renewable biomethane is and will continue to be the most effective decarbonisation solution for heavy transport for many years, he adds. “However, we have launched HyFuels to ensure we are ready to support our customers’ journey to a multi-fuel future as new technologies become commercially viable and the fuel readily available.”

CNG Fuels currently operates seven public access bio-CNG refuelling stations in the UK, and plans to open at least 12 more every year from 2022. The company plans to have 60 stations in operation by 2026, supporting the mass adoption of renewable biomethane fuel by fleets across the UK.

HT Aero plans flying super car

HT Aero plans flying super car

XPeng affiliate company HT Aero has unveiled what many are referring to as an “outrageous” flying car design which, it says claims is planned for roll-out in 2024.

The controversial vehicle is said to look like “an electric Bugatti hypercar” with a pair of huge, auto-folding props in the style of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey.

Seven-year-old Chinese electric car company XPeng is growing fast, and is investing heavily in autonomy and charging infrastructure while rolling out cars including the P7, which boasts greater range than Tesla’s Model 3, at a lower price.

It is also said to be getting serious about urban air mobility. Xpeng’s affiliate eVTOL company HT Aero recently announced it had raised more than half a billion US dollars in a single funding round; a figure which, according to the AAM Reality Index, makes HT Aero the world’s fifth best-funded eVTOL company.