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Fri, Oct 22, 2021

'Ultralight' VTOL Jetson ONE Launched

Sales Begun on “Manned Drone”

Swedish company Jetson has officially launched their ONE, a commercially available, personal electric aircraft with VTOL capabilities.

A lithe, lean cockpit flanked by four twin rotors, the folding, ultralight vehicle appears ready for sale in its recently released promotional video. Showing footage not unlike FPV drone flight, only the hands visibly grasping the controls indicate that UAV pilots may finally be able to have their dream: a quad-rotor drone big enough for them ride. 

The announcement was a surprise for fans of the burgeoning eVTOL single seater market. WIth as many designations as names, projects are sometimes labelled “Skycars”, “Personal Urbain Air-Transport” or, in Jetson’s nomenclature, a “personal electric aerial vehicle.” Falling under the wider umbrella of the Advanced Air Mobility Market (AAM), product releases often take the industry by surprise, as the electric aircraft market is in its infancy and growing quickly. The ONE appears suited for the recreational crowd, with space for a single pilot and… well, there’s probably somewhere to wedge a granola bar somewhere in that tubing. Maybe a commuter can make do, if they squeeze everything into a fanny pack.

The Jetson ONE is one of the more pared-down vehicles of the type, looking like little more than a bucket seat surrounded by a ring of tubing, brief glimpses of rotors glinting in the sun as the craft carves through the air. Where similar projects tend to look like carbon-wrapped bathtubs, the ONE looks like a weekend project track car, a vehicle stripped to only the most essential elements of propulsion, power, and controls. Unlike normal consumer drone controls with dual thumb sticks, steering is accomplished by a fighter like HOTAS configuration, with the right hand controlling three axes of flight, and power on the left. Meeting FAA Part 103 Ultralight standards, it does have some quirks that may cede market share to larger aircraft for pilots bigger than its accommodations allow. Jetson lists a gross weight of 198 pounds, but more detailed specifications are needed to learn a maximum payload. The achilles’ heel for now remains the battery life, with a quoted flight time of 20 minutes with a 187 pound pilot at the helm.

Jetson does manage to pack in a few safety features, with distributed propulsion with enough redundancy to land in case of failure. The ONE’s chassis surrounds the pilot with a crash cage, and a ballistic parachute adds a last-ditch tool in case of emergency. The drone-like running gear includes some niceties, such as lidar-based obstacle and terrain avoidance, hands-free hover, and emergency hold functions. Max speed is a brisk 55 knots, limited by its onboard computers (keep in mind, it’s an unshielded cockpit, a helmet will block noise and teeth/bug interactions). Delivered as a 50% complete kit aircraft, some assembly is required at home.  When completed, the ONE can fold into a storage configuration about 3 by 9 feet.

To order the craft, a $22,000 deposit is required to reserve a build slot, with the initial run of twelve sold out for 2021. Production will begin in the summer of 2022, for increasing delivery throughout 2023. 

FMI: www.jetsonaero.com



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