Aska Unveils Fully Functional Prototype of its A5 Drive-and-Fly Electric VTOL Vehicle at CES 2023

US-based startup Aska has revealed a full-scale prototype of its A5 drive-and-fly electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle at the CES 2023 consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. The four-seat A5 has tandem wings that can be stowed on top of the SUV-sized vehicle for drive mode and unfold for flight. It is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system made up of lithium-ion batteries and a gasoline engine as a range extender, which allows for a flight range of 250 miles and a minimum of 30 minutes of reserve flight time. The vehicle also has four in-wheel motors for all-wheel drive for road use, and six propellers mounted on the wings for vertical lift and thrust during forward flight. Testing of the uncrewed prototype is planned to begin in the first quarter of the year. Aska is targeting certification of the A5 for 2026 and has already received pre-orders from individual buyers for nearly 100 vehicles.

The A5 is designed to be able to take off and land in a variety of ways. It can take off and land vertically using its six propellers, but it can also take off and land conventionally on its wings to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, it can perform a short takeoff by accelerating to liftoff speed using its in-wheel motors. This allows the A5 to take off in less than five seconds with a 250-foot ground roll, according to Aska Co-Founder and CEO Guy Kaplinsky.

The hybrid-electric propulsion system provides a flight range of 250 miles and a minimum of 30 minutes of reserve flight time. The use of a gasoline engine as a range extender also provides redundant energy sources and independence from ground charging infrastructure, said Kaplinsky. In case of emergency, the aircraft can glide to a safe landing, and a whole aircraft ballistic recovery parachute is included in the design as an added safety measure.

Backed by private investors, Aska is targeting certification of the A5 for 2026, and has accepted preorders from individual buyers for nearly 100 vehicles. At CES, the startup also introduced an on-demand ride service allowing customers to rent the vehicle with a trained pilot for about the price of Uber Black car service. Kaplinsky expects that the majority of customers will choose this more affordable “timeshare” option.

While the A5 can be driven on roads, it will have to take off and land at an FAA-approved site, which can be a helipad, vertiport or uncontrolled airport. “The big advantage is we don’t need a charging station, a terminal or any infrastructure because the vehicle is drivable,” Kaplinsky said. This allows for more flexibility in terms of locations for takeoff and landing, making the A5 a more convenient mode of transportation.

Overall, the A5 drive-and-fly electric VTOL vehicle prototype shown by Aska at CES 2023 is a significant step towards achieving the goal of providing convenient, safe and sustainable transportation options to the public, by combining VTOL capabilities with the ability to drive on roads. With the planned testing and certification, Aska is well on its way to introducing this technology to the market in 2026.

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