‘Beyond the Aircraft’: Bell Unveils its Plans for the Future of the Smart Cities

At CES 2020, Fort Worth-based Bell Textron Inc. revealed its plans—which included a new evolution of its Bell Nexus air taxi design—to make on-demand air mobility available to everyone.

smart citiesFort Worth’s Bell Textron used this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which runs from Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas, to highlight its vision for smart cities.

Since more than 70 percent of the population are expected to live in urban areas by 2050, urban mobility will become increasingly important. Bell intends to be part of providing solutions to transportation infrastructure.

“With a focus on the passenger experience, we revealed the technology and the vehicle that will revolutionize transportation in cities at CES 2019; this year, we’re demonstrating what governing, operating, working and living in a smart city will look like,” said Mitch Snyder, Bell president and CEO, in a statement.

Bell’s Mobility as a Service (MaaS) vision is based on figuring out how to integrate into communities and make on-demand air mobility accessible to all. Snyder said Bell is leading the conversation “beyond the aircraft,” offering multi-modal transportation solutions and experiences in an interconnected digital network.

The proprietary Bell AerOS system, running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, powers Bell’s service. It was created to manage fleet information, observe aircraft health, and handle the movement of goods, products, and predictive data and maintenance.

Also being featured at CES is the most recent version of the Bell Nexus air taxi: the Bell Nexus 4EX. The newest iteration of the aircraft is named for its four tilting ducted fans, “E” for electric, and “X” for experimental. It can be configured as hybrid-electric or all-electric based on customer needs.

At last year’s CES, Bell revealed the original Bell Nexus, a full-scale vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxi. At the time, the VTOL taxi was powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system and incorporated six tilting ducted fans.

Bell is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., which is based in Providence, Rhode Island. It believes its Bell Nexus air taxi and Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) will work together to move people, products, and information across connected cities.

 “The vision for the Bell Nexus remains the same, but by taking a mature system level approach to design for an objective market vehicle, we believe this configuration unlocks a capable, certifiable and commercially viable product,” Snyder said.

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