Getting into a flying capsule to get around? The start-up Caps, founded in 2018 by three young engineers from Normaliens, has designed an autonomous and individual means of transport, heralding the future of urban mobility, with a future in the air.
“It came from a fed up with transport, traffic jams and pollution! Faced with the growing problem of urban transport and the saturation of infrastructures, it is time to move on to the third dimension: the sky ”, summarizes Paul Cassé, 27 years old, president of the start-up he founded in 2018 with two friends from Normandy, Kevin Laouer and Pierre de Châteaubourg. Determined to go through the air, they imagine a whole new generation of airplanes based on drone technology: flying capsules, autonomous and single-passenger. Will the future of urban mobility be in the air? For these three engineers, the question does not arise. “We have at least three years of research and development ahead of us. We’re staying the course. We are sure of our idea. “
“Autonomy is the key. A pilot will increase the cost and we want this transport to be affordable, at 1 € per km, with a maximum distance of 15 km in town. ”
President of the start-up Caps
Bringing the outskirts of the city center closer
Based on the observation that 70% of urban journeys are individual and that the outskirts-town center journey is too long, they specify: “We need to develop a mobility solution that puts the outskirts back within 15 minutes of the city center. This will allow greater internalization and coherence of the city, to facilitate and accelerate exchanges. “
The capsule will also be single-passenger and autonomous. “Autonomy is the key. A pilot will increase the cost and we want this transport to be affordable, at 1 € per km, with a maximum distance of 15 km in town. “ Three meters high, the capsule is still too loud. “We will lighten it as much as possible”, launches Kevin, who mainly works on design and its urban adaptability. For the time being, it weighs 350 kg (compared to 3 tonnes for a collective aerial vehicle).
The flying capsule of the start-up Caps. © Caps
Partnerships for innovative technology
After a first prototype, Caps is finalizing a second one intended to be certified to fly. Much more complex, it requires innovative technologies that only partners can provide. The first is Air Énergie, designer of the batteries for Solar Impulse, the first aircraft to have circumnavigated the world entirely electrically. “For our capsules, the batteries require a very high energy density, a lot of power, while being as light as possible”, explains Pierre.
The second, whose name is not yet revealed, will help the device’s automatic guidance system, both to position itself in real time with visual sensors, and to navigate safely by detecting the environment. “This partner brings us the guidance system and us a system to test their guidance system. “ With these partnerships, the trio hope to obtain certification… And in the meantime, prepare a fundraising.
Fly to the horizon 2024-2027
If the project is validated, the capsule will see the light of day between 2024 and 2027. “We can then order it with our smartphone by paying for the ride online. It will arrive at the passenger collection point closest to you, take you to your destination, before automatically leaving for the nearest storage and reloading center ”, says Paul.
Paul Cassé, President of Caps, unveils his prototype at Vivatech. © Caps
If 200 projects of this type exist in the world, with giants like Airbus, Boeing or RATP which rely on collective aircraft, Caps is among the only ones to offer a 100% autonomous single-seater. “All the success of the project will go through automation and a compact design to optimal integration into the urban space”, assure the young normaliens. But before taking off, there remains a major challenge: reassure future users and give them confidence. The way ?
These tech entrepreneurs are betting on sport: “Often, sport has made it possible to democratize major technological advances. Technological and sporting prowess develops curiosity and confidence in people. We will probably see races of cars, taxis and flying capsules one day! “, wants to believe the trio.
In the meantime, since Cergy-Pontoise welcomes the first hub of air and autonomous mobility in Île-de-France with flight tests for flying taxis and other prototype aircraft, the project is certainly in the air. time.