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This company is selling $500,000 flying vehicles that look like giant drones and can be flown without a pilot's license

This company is selling $500,000 flying vehicles that look like giant drones and can be flown without a pilot's license
Tech1 min read
Hexa.Lift Aircraft
  • Austin startup Lift Aircraft created Hexa, a flying vehicle that looks like a drone.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic postponed a planned national tour of the vehicle.
  • The company is selling a few Hexas for $495,000 to be used as a rental.

Austin startup Lift Aircraft calls Hexa, its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft the "future of personal flight. So far, it's been compared to a drone and a flying car.

Hexa is essentially a recreational vehicle for the air, able to fly in 15-minute intervals at low altitudes. Lift plans to market them to millennials with disposable income and anyone chasing adrenaline, because a pilot's license isn't required. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans, but Lift still says it will be touring locations across the US where anyone meeting height, weight, and age requirements can pay to fly. As of November 2019, Lift says it had more than 15,000 flights on a waitlist to ride Hexa.

The company is also selling a small number of Hexas to buyers who will then rent them out. They cost $495,000, and only five are still available.

Here's how they work.

Hexa flies through electric propulsion.

Hexa flies through electric propulsion.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Its 18 separate electric propellers and motors move the vehicle through the air.

Its 18 separate electric propellers and motors move the vehicle through the air.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Five floats, one large one in the center with four around the sides, provide buoyancy for water landings.

Five floats, one large one in the center with four around the sides, provide buoyancy for water landings.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Hexa is surprisingly light, at only 432 pounds.

Hexa is surprisingly light, at only 432 pounds.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

The frame is made entirely of carbon fiber.

The frame is made entirely of carbon fiber.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

The FAA qualified Hexa as "ultralight," so no pilot's license is necessary for flying.

The FAA qualified Hexa as "ultralight," so no pilot
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Instead, the autopilot computer with triple redundancies flies the vehicle, along with a three-axis joystick.

Instead, the autopilot computer with triple redundancies flies the vehicle, along with a three-axis joystick.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Or, it can be controlled from the seven-inch touchscreen.

Or, it can be controlled from the seven-inch touchscreen.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Lift says it gives "plenty of training" before takeout.

Lift says it gives "plenty of training" before takeout.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

All those redundancies also make Hexa safer; it can still fly and land with up to six motors disabled.

All those redundancies also make Hexa safer; it can still fly and land with up to six motors disabled.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

As a backup, it also has a parachute and airbag system.

As a backup, it also has a parachute and airbag system.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

The vehicle is built to carry one person.

The vehicle is built to carry one person.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Before flying, that person must sign a waiver, then train in the virtual reality simulator.

Before flying, that person must sign a waiver, then train in the virtual reality simulator.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Then, the ground crew sets the passenger up in the vehicle for the ride, which is monitored the entire time.

Then, the ground crew sets the passenger up in the vehicle for the ride, which is monitored the entire time.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

"Autonomy is actually much easier in the air than for cars on the ground - there are far fewer obstacles, no roads, no traffic lights, and you have 3 dimensions to move around," founder Matt Chasen said.

"Autonomy is actually much easier in the air than for cars on the ground - there are far fewer obstacles, no roads, no traffic lights, and you have 3 dimensions to move around," founder Matt Chasen said.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

When it approaches a certain battery level, Hexa will automatically land at a safe designated spot.

When it approaches a certain battery level, Hexa will automatically land at a safe designated spot.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Lift postponed a planned 25 city tour to show off the vehicle because of the pandemic, and the company says it is using that extra time for more testing and development.

Lift postponed a planned 25 city tour to show off the vehicle because of the pandemic, and the company says it is using that extra time for more testing and development.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Eventually, the plan is for anyone who meets certain age and height requirements to be able to rent Hexa for a ride.

Eventually, the plan is for anyone who meets certain age and height requirements to be able to rent Hexa for a ride.
Hexa.      Lift Aircraft

Jeff Bezos did it, back in 2018.

Jeff Bezos did it, back in 2018.
Jeff Bezos.      Lift Aircraft.

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