Aston Martin unveils ‘sports car for the skies’ at Farnborough Airshow

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A model of the Aston Martin Vision Volante Concept aircraft is displayed at the Farnborough Airshow. (AFP / BEN STANSALL)
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A model of the Aston Martin Vision Volante Concept aircraft is displayed at the Farnborough Airshow. (AFP / BEN STANSALL)
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A model of the Aston Martin Vision Volante Concept aircraft is displayed at the Farnborough Airshow. (AFP / BEN STANSALL)
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A model of the Aston Martin Vision Volante Concept aircraft is displayed at the Farnborough Airshow. (AFP / BEN STANSALL)
Updated 18 July 2018
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Aston Martin unveils ‘sports car for the skies’ at Farnborough Airshow

  • The Volante Vision Concept design has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and will be able to hit speeds of around 200mph
  • Aston Martin believes it could corner the market for luxury flying vehicles in the future

FARNBOROUGH: James Bond would love it. Aston Martin, maker of the luxury sports cars favored by the fictional British spy, has now come up with a futuristic personal aircraft it has dubbed “a sports car for the skies.”
Aston Martin unveiled the three-seater hybrid-electric vehicle this week at the Farnborough Airshow and, though the concept remains for now the stuff of science fiction, believes it could help one day to revolutionize travel.
The Volante Vision Concept design has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and will be able to hit speeds of around 200 miles per hour (322 kph), “so you can go from the center of Birmingham to the center of London in about 30 minutes,” Aston Martin’s Simon Sproule told Reuters.
Aviation and technology leaders are working to make electric-powered flying taxis a reality, including Airbus, US ride-sharing firm Uber and a range of start-ups including one backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, called Kitty Hawk.
Aston Martin believes it could corner the market for luxury flying vehicles in the future.
“The same way that you have Uber and you have an Aston Martin, you’ll have ‘Uber in the skies’ and you’ll have ‘Aston Martin in the skies’,” said Sproule, adding that such an aircraft won’t come cheap.
“This is clearly a luxury object — it’s a sports car for the skies — so pricing is going to be commensurate with that, so certainly into the seven figures.”

“FEELS LIKE A FIGHTER JET”
The company has partnered with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and British jet engine maker Rolls-Royce to develop the concept vehicle, including artificial intelligence-powered autonomous capabilities.
“It feels like a fighter jet but at the same time it has the Aston Martin luxury,” said David Debney, chief of future aircraft concepts at Rolls-Royce.
Commenting on how to pilot the vehicle, Cranfield’s Helen Atkinson said: “You’ve got to detect what’s going on in the external environment and then turn that around incredibly quickly in the computer system with the artificial intelligence built in to actually achieve the necessary level of autonomy.”
Separately at Farnborough, Rolls-Royce unveiled plans for a flying taxi — an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle which could carry four to five people at speeds of up to 250 miles (400 km) per hour for approximately 500 miles.
The company said it was starting a search for partners to help develop a project it hopes could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.


‘Saudi Inc’ author says no shows won’t dent KSA investment appeal

Updated 23 October 2018
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‘Saudi Inc’ author says no shows won’t dent KSA investment appeal

  • Ellen Wald said there was an element of symbolism in the decision by some executives not to attend the Future Investment Initiative
  • Wald also said that the absence of many big name investors from the US and Europe might hand an advantage to other potential business partners

RIYADH: An American expert on US-Saudi business affairs believes that the withdrawal of some senior business leaders from the investment conference that opens in Riyadh today does not reflect the Kingdom’s commercial attractions.
Ellen Wald, president of the Transversal Consulting think-tank and author of the recent book “Saudi Inc,” told Arab News that there was an element of symbolism in the decision by some executives not to attend the Future Investment Initiative in the Saudi capital, and that many business people were still looking to do business there.
“I think the big pull out of CEOs is not really reflective of the corporate interest in the Kingdom because we see them sending their next level of executives along. So to some degree it (the CEO pullout) is symbolic. I think what they experience here this week will have an effect,” she said.
Wald also said that the absence of many big name investors from the US and Europe might hand an advantage to potential business partners in other parts of the world.
“In terms of attracting foreign investment, Saudi Arabia could have strategic leverage with Russia and China, and a unique opportunity to work on cutting edge technolgies,” she said.
Wald was speaking at an event organized by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center to discuss her book. She said that Saudi Arabia had a greater need for technology and know-how than for cash investment.
“With regard to foreign investment, it is not about extracting money, but about extracting expertise. The Saudi model has been to hire outside industrial talent, for example the Public Investment Fund and its cinema partner AMC. They are buying expertise in the same way that the Saudis bought in expertise with Aramco, all those years ago. Eventually they (PIF) will buy the cinemas out or bring in somebody else to run them,” she added.