The flying saucer is finally here among the earthlings. It is no longer an object flown by aliens in an unknown universe. Washington-based tech startup Zeva Aero recently unveiled a prototype of the world’s first flying saucer vehicle. Although it doesn’t currently have the same speed as the flying saucers you see in UFO movies, the single-seat vertical take-off and landing flying saucer vehicle is said to fly at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour and a range of up to 50 miles. Optimizing point-to-point travel.
The zero-emission electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, dubbed ZEVA ZERO, reached a key milestone when the startup successfully completed its test flight on January 9th. The aim of the test was to demonstrate take off, travel and landing.
The unmanned ZEVA ZERO demonstration aircraft completed four flights totaling more than four minutes of controlled hovering, simulated roll maneuvers at slow speeds and limited vertical climb maneuvers. Its compact airframe is designed for a single pilot and is small enough to fit in a standard car park. Ultimately, the ZEVA ZERO will be able to fly in a horizontal position, allowing it to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.
To fly the ZEVA ZERO you would have to move face down on your stomach. The ZERO is a personal flying machine that transitions from hover mode to forward flight mode. ZERO is a new class of aircraft that combines the best characteristics of multicopters with streamlined wing bodies for improved range and efficiency.
Founded in 2017 by Stephen Tibbitts, the Zeva electric jet project emerged from Boeing’s GoFly competition to design a plane that could fit inside a 2.6 meter diameter sphere and build a company around that effort. The first vehicle from ZEVA is called Zero. The ultimate goal is to transform the transportation landscape for mission-critical travel.
Stephen Tibbitts began initial design studies with Ben Gould and was accompanied by a growing team of engineers. Limited by maximum wingspan, the team proposed a carbon fiber wing body in the shape of a saucer. The device takes off and sits on its tail, and with a low altitude climb, it levels off using the aerodynamics of the fuselage.
“It’s an octocopter,” Tibbitts said, pointing to the four engines above and four below. “It’s a mixed wing body and generates lift as it flies forward.” The battery-powered ZEVA Zero is next tested for forward flight.
“The customers we’re seeing right now are first responders, medical professionals who need to get to the scene of an accident as quickly as possible to treat trauma victims,” said Tibbitts, an engineer and trained pilot.
Zeva Aero has already attracted the attention of the US military. The Pentagon has also expressed an interest in the Zeva flying saucer, Tibbitts said. “And then we were approached by a number of wealthy people who wanted to fly from their lake house to the city and also off their yachts.”
Ultimately, Zeva Aero’s goal is to put a sustainable aircraft in every garage. The commercial price, expected to start at around $250,000, might be out of reach for some commuters for now, but Zeva Aero’s Chief Technology Officer Gurbir Singh is optimistic.
“As battery technology continues to improve, this vehicle will only get better and be able to do more and more things as we move forward,” he said. To learn more about the possibilities with ZEVA, visit our equity crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine and sign up for their newsletter.
Below is a video of ZEVA Zero in action.