5/21/2019 | 1 MINUTE READ

Bosch Aims to Bring Auto Sensors to Flying Cars

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Robert Bosch GmbH is adapting sensors used in passenger cars for future applications in air taxis.

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Robert Bosch GmbH is adapting sensors used in passenger cars for future applications in air taxis.

The supplier says its sensors are smaller, lighter and significantly less expensive than current aircraft sensors. In some cases, the latter can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, according to Bosch.

Bosch’s universal aircraft control box (pictured) integrates dozens of micro-electromechanical sensors (MEMS), which the company has produced for automotive applications for more than 25 years. In cars, such sensors are used to detect acceleration, braking and travel direction.

In addition to acceleration sensors, the aircraft system would include pressure, magnetic field and yaw-rate MEMS. Yaw-rate sensors measure the flying vehicle’s “angle of attack,” which is the angle at which wind meets the airfoil.

Bosch says the various sensors would track an air taxi’s positions at all times, allowing them to be precisely controlled during autonomous operations. The plug-in box is designed to fit any vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft currently being developed.

Bosch is talking with several companies that are developing air taxis, including startups and traditional carmakers and aerospace firms. Citing multiple forecasts, the supplier says commercial air taxi service is due to start in select markets by 2023, with autonomous operation following by mid-decade.