The Alef Model A and the future of flying cars with Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny | E1929

The Alef Model A and the future of flying cars with Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny | E1929

Alef’s Jim Dukhovny joins Jason (00:00:00)

  • The technology to fly a human autonomously in a car already exists, but it is not certified for public use.
  • The Alef Model A is a two-seater, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
  • It has a range of 200 miles and a top speed of 150 mph.
  • The Model A is designed to be easy to fly, even for people with no piloting experience.
  • It is also designed to be safe, with a variety of features to prevent accidents.
  • Flying cars have the potential to revolutionize transportation.
  • They could make it easier to get around, reduce traffic congestion, and even save lives.
  • However, there are still a number of challenges that need to be overcome before flying cars can become a reality.
  • These challenges include safety, regulation, and infrastructure.

Alef’s mission and the different approaches to VTOL and flying car technologies (00:01:16)

  • The Alef Model A, introduced by CEO Jim Dukhovny, aims to address the challenges of practical flying cars by combining the practicality of a car with the ability to take off and land vertically.
  • Unlike traditional flying car concepts, the Alef Model A transitions seamlessly between driving and flying modes, making it more versatile and practical for everyday use.
  • The widespread adoption of flying cars faces significant infrastructure challenges, as a large number of heliports or landing pads would be required, potentially raising affordability concerns for consumers.
  • Safety issues arise due to open propellers and the potential for accidents in urban areas.
  • Flying cars are larger, have extensive batteries, and are designed for shorter flight durations of around 45 minutes.
  • Due to FAA regulations, flying cars need to have a range of 50% further than their intended trip, resulting in longer flight times.
  • Flying cars require designated landing and takeoff locations, limiting their flexibility compared to traditional cars.

Alef’s approach to vehicle design and use of existing technologies in a new format (00:09:17)

  • Redesigned the shape of the vehicle to look like a sports car, hired famous car designer, Henrik Fisker, to design the exterior.
  • Removed the engine and trunk to create space for propulsion systems.
  • Uses four smaller motors in each wheel for differential drive and weight reduction.
  • Created a mesh structure on top that provides structural support and allows airflow for lift.
  • Utilizes distributed electric propulsion with eight independent motor speed controllers, propellers, and battery systems for differential thrust and redundancy.

Technical details of Alef’s vehicle design, including propulsion systems and structural innovations (00:12:10)

  • The shape of a car is not ideal for flying as it pushes air down, not up.
  • Using extendable wings adds weight and reduces power for vertical takeoff and forward flight.
  • Alef's solution is to rotate the car 90 degrees so that the sides become wings, creating a biplane shape.
  • This design incorporates existing technologies for takeoff, transition, and flight.

Challenges of designing flying vehicles that function both as cars and aircraft (00:14:27)

  • The Alef Model A, a flying car developed by Alef Aeronautics, has successfully completed test flights with a person on board.
  • Its stability is achieved through differential thrust, elevons, and other control surfaces managed by software similar to that used in drones.
  • The two-seater vehicle has garnered over 3,000 pre-orders, with plans for a four-seater version in the future.
  • Alef Aeronautics aims to commence production of the Alef Model A by the end of 2025, acknowledging the challenges of regulatory approval and funding.
  • The Alef Model A is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
  • It is designed to be a personal flying vehicle that can be used for both transportation and recreation.
  • The Model A has a range of 200 miles and a top speed of 200 mph.
  • It can carry up to four passengers and has a cargo capacity of 500 pounds.
  • The Model A is expected to be available for purchase in 2025.
  • Alef believes that eVTOL aircraft will revolutionize transportation by making it faster, easier, and more convenient.
  • The company envisions a future where people use eVTOL aircraft to commute to work, travel to the airport, and go on vacation.
  • Alef is working to make eVTOL aircraft safe, affordable, and accessible to everyone.

Commercial aspects, including pricing, customer pre-orders, and manufacturing plans (00:22:39)

  • The retail price is expected to be around $150k-$250k, comparable to the Jetson or Archer which cost around $1 million.
  • The current $300k price tag is due to the handmade nature and lack of optimization of the early models, similar to the Tesla Roadster's initial $165k price.
  • The long-term goal is to achieve a price point of $30k or less, comparable to Toyota models, through optimization and increased production volume.
  • The vehicle requires a significant amount of battery power, comprising about one-third of the car's weight.
  • The distributed battery system ensures redundancy and independence in case of battery failure.
  • The biplane format allows for more efficient flight, requiring less power and enabling gliding, which extends battery life.
  • The prototype shown in the video is an actual flying vehicle, not CGI.
  • Quadcopter technology has been proven to scale up to the size of a car or larger and has demonstrated stability.
  • The remaining challenge is to address the FAA's perspective and regulations regarding flying cars.

Regulatory and certification challenges and the potential timeline for bringing the product to market (00:26:13)

  • The US may be slower to adopt flying cars due to strict safety regulations and a complex governance structure.
  • The Middle East, particularly the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, may be early adopters due to their pro-innovation stance and centralized decision-making.
  • Europe and Canada are potential early adopters due to existing laws that can be adapted for flying cars.
  • New technologies like eVTOL aircraft address safety concerns and could facilitate flying car adoption.
  • The Alef Model A has enhanced safety features, including a high level of redundancy and independent, protected rotors.

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Ballistic parachute systems in drones, planes, and Alef’s vehicles (00:34:16)

  • Alef's vehicles are incredibly light, allowing for the deployment of ballistic parachutes at low altitudes, ensuring a safe landing.
  • Ballistic parachutes are redundant and add an extra layer of safety to the vehicle's software.
  • Cirrus planes have ballistic parachutes that can be deployed in specific conditions, but they are heavy and may not be suitable for low-altitude deployment.
  • Drones use small parachutes that can save them completely in emergency situations.
  • Alef's technology is closer to drone technology, allowing for multiple parachutes to be deployed at any point, providing increased safety.

The long-term vision for autonomous flying cars (00:38:53)

  • The Alef Model A, a flying car currently in development, is expected to be delivered in 2025 with funding secured through various means.
  • Alef is employing cost-efficient methods in its development, acknowledging that its approach may differ from other eVTOL companies like Joby and Archer.
  • Initially, the Alef Model A will require a pilot's license for operation, similar to existing low-speed aircraft, but the company believes autonomous flight technology exists and may be permitted in the future.
  • Safety features of the Alef Model A include increased maneuverability in the air, reducing collision risks, and ballistic parachutes for safe landings in case of emergencies.
  • Pre-orders for the Alef Model A are currently being accepted, with a $1,500 deposit for priority queue and a $150 deposit for regular pre-orders.

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