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CES LIVE: Bell reveals full-scale Nexus flying taxi

by Justin King

The Nexus is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system with six tilting ducted fans.

Bell Helicopter has revealed a full-scale vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxi vehicle at CES.

Known as the Bell Nexus, the aircraft is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system with six ducted fans that tilt to horizontal and vertical orientation for takeoff/landing and forward flight.

Partner Safran is developing the hybrid system, repurposing a traditional gas turbine to operate as an electricity generator rather than directly providing propulsion or driving a rotor or propeller. Power density of fossil fuels is still much higher than that of lithium-ion batteries, presumably enabling the Nexus to have a much longer range than a battery-only aircraft yet still operate on short runs without firing up the turbine generator.

Bell has been named as a partner in Uber's plans to launch a commercial air taxi service in the coming years.