Energy efficiency and AI technology continue to be integrated into many facets of life. Until today, these concepts have stayed indoors in a smarthome, smartphone or under the hoods of popular hybrid vehicles. However the Seattle-based startup, Zunum Aero is pushing the boundaries of modern aviation technology with plans to release their very own 12-passenger hybrid-electric jet by 2022. In addition, they recently acquired the autonomous aero-technology firm, Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation. This acquisition along with the support of Boeing HorizonX and Jet Blue Tech Ventures could very well take consumers back to the future of their favorite ‘Jetsons’ episode.
Hopes to Solve Headaches of Regional Flying
Despite industry professionals predicting similar technology will take decades to become mainstream, Zunum has a vision much bigger than any theoretical framework. Chief Technology Officer, Matt Knapp, understands the value of making short commutes by plane environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Confident that their aircraft will eliminate the hassles of regional trips Knapp said, “We want to design an airplane that is going to be future compatible. Batteries are going to keep changing… So we’re designing from the get-go. You keep the same mass, but the amount of energy in that mass is going to keep increasing. What that means on short flights: you run the generator less and less.” This forward thinking approach would make a round-trip from SF to LA easier than ever before.
The company believes that operating expenses can be as low as $0.09 per seat mile equalling about $260 per hour. A short flight on commercial carriers could easily guzzle over $20,000 worth of fuel while spreading traces of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Zunum will also make their ticket prices competitive ranging from $110-$140 which is about a third less than traditional options. Their model in 2022 will have a max-flying range of 700 miles and a 1000 mile limit by 2030. Kissing the sky at 360 mph while navigating the clouds with machine learning technology, Knapp said, “This aircraft is going to transform how we live and work.” Zunum is confident that they will be ready for test flights by 2019.
The growing innovations of electric batteries and AI systems make Zunum appear ahead of its time and ahead of the curve. Planes are one of the only instruments that hasn’t effectively exploited this disrupting technology. We’re excited to see how this will revolutionize the flight sector at home and abroad.