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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Soon We'll Be Flying Personal Electric Planes

A cozy crowd of several dozen engineers, venture capitalists, and members of clean-tech companies plotted the potential at the Electric Aircraft Symposium held in April in San Francisco, sponsored by Foundation Capital and held by the CAFE Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to advance personal air travel.

The meeting included Ivo Boscarol, CEO of Pipistrel, which by the end of this year is set to deliver the first commercially produced, two-passenger electric aircraft to customers. The Slovenian company's Taurus Electro can climb to 6,000 feet after taking off on a 30-kilowatt motor. Recharging the glider's lithium-polymer battery is meant to take about as long as powering a cell phone. Depending upon the weather and skills of the pilot, the glider can travel 1,000 miles in a day.

Before you know it, we'll be zipping around like the Jetsons! Personal flying vehicles may be way off in the future, but the navigation and anti-collision technology to make the highways safer is not far away. Some companies like Volvo are already incorporating these technologies into models you can buy at your local dealer. It's a bit sad, but the fact is, a computer can probably drive better than most people out there.
As for the personal aircraft, it's good to see that they are making it enviromentaly friendly. After reading the article, one has to wonder if the next wave of eco-friendly innovation will come from the European Union instead of the US or Japan. The next big breakthrough could come from an unexpected place...like Slovenia.
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