System Benefits: Environment
We believe that new transportation solutions must address environmental issues head-on. That’s why Alaka'i uses hydrogen fuel cells – the cleanest practical end-to-end fuel system on the planet.
Transportation is a significant producer of pollution and contributes to climate change – in the US, it accounts for the largest portion of total emissions (28%). And while most vehicles run cleaner today than in the past, there are more vehicles than ever that are being used more often, offsetting the benefits of increased efficiency and regulations. Aviation and automobiles are responsible for a significant share of the world’s harmful emissions. In the US, road vehicles account for 83% of total greenhouse gas emissions, with aircraft accounting for 9%.
One of Alakai’s primary goals is to ultimately reduce greenhouse emissions and other pollutants by replacing a large number of road vehicles and short-haul aircraft with quiet, pollution-free, minimal-impact air mobility.
EPA: Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions
EPA: US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fast Facts
System Benefits: Commuting
Skai has the power to improve life for everyone, every day. Perhaps the clearest and most relatable benefit is a dramatic improvement to commuting. Americans, on average, spend 42 minutes a day commuting – in cities like Los Angeles or Dallas, that number is nearly double.
According to recent studies, the combined cost of traffic congestion in terms of lost productivity and wasted fuel is more than $100 billion annually. In addition, millions of vehicles sitting in traffic every day emit pollution, affecting the environment and human health. There is also a psychological cost associated with commuting, from the obvious increase in stress, to road rage, to a feeling of helplessness.
Skai offers an alternative. Multi-hour commutes down to just minutes. Pollution-free operation. A pleasant, comfortable experience. And once the system is up to scale, services that are affordable for everyone.
Texas A&M Mobility Report:
American Journal of Preventive Medicine:
A key application for Skai will be providing point-to-any-point travel for the general public. This can include everything from affordable, everyday air-pooling to work, an air shuttle to the airport, a weekend trip to the beach, or inter-city business travel.
The SkaiCab configuration features seating for up to 5 and an easy and user-friendly passenger experience. A intuitive app, familiar to any ride-share user, will allow users to hail a Skai vehicle in their area, input their destination and style of travel (sharing the ride via air-pooling or reserving the entire vehicle).
Once Skai production is at scale, the cost for air-pooling should be competitive with or cheaper than current road-based ride-share services. Reserving an entire vehicle will be more expensive than air-pooling, but significantly less costly than current helicopter and fixed-wing air-taxi prices.
SkaiCargo is a freight service application, offering a payload capability of up to 1000 lbs. It will typically operate on feeder routes – routes off of the main cargo hubs that require smaller vehicles as well as open the possibility to fly directly to a distribution center. In the SkaiCargo configuration, interior tie-downs or floor tracks are used to secure payload. There is a single seat for the pilot, or no seat at all, in the case of a ground-control pilot or fully autonomous operation.
With the increasing popularity of online shopping, there are more feeder route trucks on the roads. They not only add to traffic congestion, but also emit harmful emissions. SkaiCargo can help relieve this additional stress on busy roadways with its clean, quiet, low-impact performance.
SkaiCraft will offer a configurable cabin with luxurious seating to suit the needs of the privation aviation market. Exchange seats to bring additional luggage, or add an office setup to keep working while you fly.
SkaiCraft will always be ready to pick you up for your next meeting or your weekend getaway. It can land at an estate or a golf course and an industrial site or small airport. SkaiCraft makes flying short distances possible, all while flying discreetly and producing zero harmful emissions.
The SkaiMed configuration is designed for first responder, EMS and medivac services. Its advantages are clear – it’s an ambulance that can go anywhere. SkaiMed has the ability to land closer to patients and access areas road-based ambulances and helicopters can’t get to. In addition, Skai’s quiet, low RPM rotors and minimal rotor wash (air turbulence) allow it to operate in densely populated areas. Thanks to a large existing network of hospital helipads, Skai will be able to easily integrate with current infrastructure to help save lives.
In a medical emergency, every moment counts, and Skai’s high availability and efficient performance means that patients will get the care they need more quickly. When the vehicle is en route to the hospital, Skai’s IRIS avionics can transmit real-time patient data to both the emergency room and to the doctor’s smartphone via telemetry.
Skai’s infrastructure is safe and simple, in part because there’s not much to it – no new facilities need to be built for Skai to takeoff. Skai can take off and land from existing locations, like parking lots, rooftops, and existing regional airports and helipads – really anywhere with about 500 square feet of space. There are over 5000 public-use airports in the US, not to mention over 6000 heliports.
Fueling stations are outdoors as a safety precaution. Large tanks will store liquid hydrogen, as is already done in over two dozen automotive fueling stations in California. As per the NFPA 2 Hydrogen Technologies Code and other safety standards, vent stacks and pressure relief devices will safely release hydrogen boil-off to avoid over-pressure. Non-toxic hydrogen gas will be safely vented into the air in small quantities (In fact, hydrogen’s buoyancy means that it will ultimately escape the earth’s atmosphere into space). Smart fuel pumps “talk” to the vehicle to ensure the system checks out before pumping. Refueling takes less than 10 minutes, allowing up to 4 hours of continuous flight.
Ground control systems monitor every Skai vehicle in the area, with the ability to assist or intervene if there’s a problem. For example, in the event that a pilot loses consciousness, the vehicle can be safely flown by a ground-based pilot. In the event that the encrypted tactical data link to the ground pilot fails, the vehicle can safely RTB (return to base) or land nearby, fully autonomously. Note that Skai is autonomous-ready today, but FAA regulations do not currently allow its use.