By Riley Kaminer
In Miami, traffic is the great equalizer. No matter your background, income, or social status, it’s more likely than not that you’ll end up in the same gridlock as the rest of us. With some of the longest commute times in the US – on par with Los Angeles – traffic is wasting our time, losing us money, and killing the planet.
One potential solution to this major headache is to forget about the ground all together and look to the sky. A handful of eVTOL (electric vehicle takeoff and landing) companies are developing quick, environmentally friendly, and fun ways to ferry Miamians from point A to point B.
Doroni Aerospace is a Medley-based startup that is developing its own eVTOL flying car.
“It’s like a 3D elevator,” founder and CEO Doron Merdinger told Refresh Miami. The vehicle is similar to an elevator in a few ways. Most obviously, there is a parallel between how eVTOLs levitate to launch themselves into the sky, in a similar trajectory to an airplane. Equally, Merdinger explained that piloting Doroni’s eVTOL will be as simple as it is to operate an elevator.
“Remember how elevators used to be so complex that you needed a person to operate them? Now you just press a button. Once you start using [Doroni’s product], you will wonder how you ever drove a car.”
Initially, users will need to spend 15 hours acquiring a license to pilot a light sport aircraft in order to operate Doroni’s car. But Merdinger underscored that top of mind for Doroni is creating a user-friendly product once the obligatory training is out of the way. “We took away all the complications and made it so simple to fly: basically pushing three buttons.”
Doroni, which has grown to a core team of eight people since it was founded around 2016, aims to create a full scale prototype of its aircraft by the end of the year. By the end of 2024, the company hopes to start delivering the first six units.
The product has four legs, giving it the stability of a table, with room for two passengers and ten independent propulsion systems. The idea is that users can charge and store it in a two-car garage. Its max speed will be 140 miles per hour, with a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour. Currently, the range is 60 miles – but Merdinger expects that figure to increase to over 100 miles by the time of production.
This eVTOL is inherently environmentally friendly because it is battery-powered. Merdinger emphasized that safety is Doroni’s number one priority, alongside simplicity. “Usually when it’s simpler, it’s also safer because there are fewer points of failure,” he said.
Regulation remains a major sticking point for eVTOL technology. But Merdinger is optimistic, asserting that the government is very interested in creating regulation to enable eVTOLs, particularly at the federal level.
Merdinger, who is Israeli but has lived in South Florida for a decade, said that this is the “right place and the right time” for Doroni. “Miami tech is happening and has continued to ramp up since Covid.”
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