Zunum Aero’s electric aircraft aim to fly you faster, cheaper, and cleaner

ow does 40 percent shorter door-to-door air travel time at 80 percent cheaper fares sound to you? What if you could throw in 80 percent lower emissions? The promises of economy, efficiency, and environmental responsibility are the three pillars of Zunum Aero‘s business model, Venture Beat reports.

Kirkland, Washington-based Zunum Aero plans to use 10-to-50 seat aircraft for regional flights for trips up to 700 miles. The company intends to begin flights early in the next decade.

By flying in and out of the vastly underused 97 percent of the 13,500 U.S. airports, Zunum passenger waiting times will be minimized and the company’s operating costs will be much lower than conventional planes at large airports. Those two factors alone could result in big wins for Zunum travelers. Boarding a Zunum plane relatively close to home should be about as easy and quick as boarding a bus at a bus station. When the company saves on operating expense, it can charge lower fares.

The cool tech part of Zunum Aero’s story is the aircraft itself. The company does not plan to use existing equipment. Instead, Zunum is developing hybrid electric planes. Zunum has been helping establish electric aircraft certification standards with the Federal Aviation Authority since 2014. This is also a good time to mention that Boeing is one of Zunum Aero’s investors, along with JetBlue Technology ventures, a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways.

zunum aero hybrid electric planes cheaper faster cleaner 2

“Boeing is investing in Zunum because we feel its technology development is leading this emerging and exciting hybrid-electric market space,” Boeing VP of strategy Steve Nordlund said. “This technology and customer approach has the potential to transform the market for small, short-haul aircraft that can use smaller regional airports.”

Zunum co-founder and CEO Ashish Kumar explained in a company statement that the large aircraft used by major airlines have opened the market service opportunity his company intends to fill.

“The shift of the industry to large aircraft and long ranges driven by gas turbines has concentrated almost all air traffic to just two percent of our airports, creating a massive transport gap over regional distances where there is no high-speed alternative,” Kumar said. “As a result, door-to-door times for most journeys are no better than they were 50 years ago. Hybrid propulsion is an industry-changing solution, enabling mid-sized aircraft on regional routes to have better cost efficiencies than airliners.”

In addition to lower emissions and less noise in flight and during takeoffs and landings, electric-hybrid aircraft won’t have long waits for fuel trucks to arrive and laboriously pump thousands of gallons of jet fuel. A fast battery recharge or swap, reset the GPS flight path, and you’re ready to go again. Zunum says its hybrids will “sip fuel only when they have to.” As battery technologies progress, the company looks forward to the day when battery power alone will be sufficient.

Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Cars

Electric car buying guide: What you need to know before you buy

EVs are better than they've ever been, but buying your first battery-powered car can be an intimidating experience. Digital Trends has compiled a comprehensive guide that walks you through the process of buying an EV.
Trash

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...
Emerging Tech

Notre Dame fire: How drones and a robot called Colossus helped limit the damage

The fire that devastated the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday shocked many around the world. In a bid to prevent even worse damage to the structure, Paris firefighters opted to deploy drones and a robot called Colossus.
Emerging Tech

New gunfire-detection system alerts police of shooters in seconds, not minutes

The Safe Zone Gunfire Detector is a fast gunfire-detection system that could help avert potential tragedies in public places like schools, malls, or anywhere a mass shooting might occur.
Emerging Tech

NASA chooses a special spot for its next crewed moon landing

Following the U.S. government's announcement last month of a desire to see American astronauts set foot on the moon again in the next five years, NASA has revealed a location on the lunar surface where it would most like to land.
Emerging Tech

Adidas has created a running shoe that’s made to be remade

Adidas has unveiled the Futurecraft Loop running shoe that it claims is the first performance footwear to be 100% recyclable. The shoe is the latest green initiative by the sportswear company and will go on sale in 2021.
Emerging Tech

Yale scientists restore cellular activity in a pig’s brain hours after its death

In what some may view as a porcine version of Frankenstein, Yale University scientists have restored circulation and cellular activity in a pig’s brain four hours after its death. The study is likely to be used to study brain function
Emerging Tech

Russia’s robot news anchor gives human TV presenters hope

Human news anchors anxious about robots taking their jobs will be feeling reassured this week after the appearance on Russian TV of a news-reading android that clearly needs a bit of work.