ASX: Building the Next Generation of Sustainable VTOLs
ASX is a startup aviation company based in Michigan developing a new Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicle -VTOL. ASX‘s VTOL is innovative as it is designed to be a zero emissions vehicle and to considerably reduce the noise compared to similar VTOLs launching on the market.
There is quite a lot of interest around VTOLs at the moment: several startups and companies are working on projects aiming to be among the first companies to be selling on the market. VTOLs are considered the way we will fight congestion and pollution in larger cities in the future – especially eVTOL, – electric Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicles. VTOLs can be used both to transport people and goods in a fast and clean way.
Impakter today has the opportunity to ask some questions to the Founders of ASX: Jon Rimanelli – who is also the CEO – Dr. Anita Sengupta, – the CPO – and Joaquin, Nuno-Whelan – the CCO. Let’s see what they have to say. Also do have a look at the videos they shared with us!
ASX seems to have an innovative approach to VTOLs focusing on zero emissions, more efficiency and noise reduction. Would you like to explain the reasons for this approach?
Jon Rimanelli, CEO: Having designed, built and flown over 70 small quad-rotor vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, it was clear that the best approach to improving energy efficiency, range and speed was to add a lifting surfaces (wings). In effort to minimize our learning curve, we looked back in time for aircraft that did the job of VTOL and transition, and found Tilt-Wing VTOLs as viable and having the highest performance.
Would you like to explain in details the most interesting features of your project?
Dr. Anita Sengupta, CPO: For me the most interesting technical feature is our use of electric propulsion. With electric motors and battery power ASX is taking the first step to reducing the carbon foot print of air travel. From a programmatic perspective vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) allows us to utilize existing infrastructure such as General Aviation Airports and parking lots to kick-start the mobility solution for the smart cities of the future.
At what stage of the project are you at the moment?
Joaquin, Nuno-Whelan, CCO: We are heading into larger scale testing after proving out controls and flight feasibility at 1/3rd scale. We’ve already tested 5 prototypes at sub scale. Will have more to announce on larger and full-scale tests in the coming months.
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Do you see you VTOL to be used only for passengers? Or do you have other ways to use it in mind?
Dr. Anita Sengupta: VTOL can be for passengers, MedEvac, and cargo. We envision our vehicle, named MOBi-One, carrying up to 5 people, conducting humanitarian missions, reconnaissance, or delivering high-value cargo in a greater urban, suburban area.
ASX is based in the Detroit area which has suffered a lot due to the economic crisis that has hit the area in the past. Why have you decided to be based there? Do you think your project could help the economic growth in the area by offering new opportunities?
Jon Rimanelli, CEO: Detroit is most famous for mass production of automobiles, but what many people do not know is that is was Henry Ford who built the first airliner, the Ford Tri-Motor. Detroit has a long history building aircraft and components to include building B-24 Bombers every 59 minutes in Ford’s Willow Run Plant. It is this industrial capacity which will enable us to reduce the cost of production of small aircraft transportation system by a 10 X rough order of magnitude. Leveraging automotive production infrastructure, we will not only make urban air mobility practical for the mass traveling public, but it could very well shift Detroit’s local economy.