The Future is Now: Prototype of a Flying Taxi of the Future Assembled at NUST MISIS

A prototype of the aircraft of the future has been assembled at the NUST MISIS KINETICA High Complexity Prototyping Center at the request of the Russian company Bartini. The “air taxi” has even successfully passed several tests. Bartini plans to complete development and present the air taxi on the commercial market by 2020.

Endless traffic jams, crowded public transport, having to account for massive swings in travel time—these issues are familiar to everyone who lives in a big city. For years, we’ve reflected on 20 century science fiction and futurism, wondering collectively about flying cars. Well, that future is on its way: a prototype of a flying taxi has been assembled at NUST MISIS.

The air taxi will operate on three main principles: electric traction, the aerodynamics (mobility) of its wing, and taking off and landing vertically.

The device takes off vertically like a helicopter and then accelerates on a horizontal plane, its screws rotating perpendicular to the vehicle’s body so it can continue flying like an airplane. Landing takes place in the reverse order, operating on the same principles.

“The functions of a quadcopter, a ‘flying wing’, and convertiplanes [have been] implemented in our electro-flight”, said Vitaly Salatov, Technical Director at Bartini.

As part of the cooperation between NUST MISIS and Bartini, the engineers from the KINETICA Prototyping Center started assembling the prototype of the device in March 2018. By May, the design was completed and the technical tests had begun.

During repeated tests in open space, the prototype demonstrated good maneuverability and stability of its control systems.

"We had to produce certain parts and components—equipment for the composite coating of carbon fiber—as well as assemble the final version of the air taxi prototype on a 1:2 scale. The body is made of polymer materials and the axes of steel, powered by lithium batteries. The prototype`s weight is about 60 kg, and its top speed is about 200km/h. The device is controlled remotely and four "wings"—twin screws fixed to the movable axes—carry out [its] takeoff, air support and movement. This is the Bartini effect, named after the famous Italian aircraft designer“, said Pavel Kosyatov, head of the Production Department at KINETICA.

Bartini`s effect is an increase in the thrust of the aircraft screws and a decrease in the drag due to the special paired arrangement of the motors rotating in different directions. The motors are aligned in a special metal ring, and the whole structure is called an impeller.

“NUST MISIS’s KINETICA High Complexity Prototyping Center opened in 2017. It is a high-tech platform that has no analogues in Russia or abroad. Thanks to our talented engineers and unique equipment, the University can implement a full cycle of prototypes commissioned by our business partners. The developments are unique and anticipate customer expectations”, noted Alevtina Chernikova, Rector of NUST MISIS.

Cooperation between NUST MISIS`s KINETICA Prototyping Center and Bartini will continue into the future. The short-term plans are to recalculate the air taxi’s aerodynamic characteristics to create a full-size pre-production sample.

Bartini is a Russian startup, a part of Skolkovo Technopark, and a participant of the industrial air taxi incubator. The company, named after the Soviet aircraft designer Robert Bartini, has been on the market since 2015, and its main goal is to create comfortable and maneuverable small-sized flying transportation for everyday use in urban environments.