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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

SXSW: Bell brings festival goers a taste of the Jetsons future

Bell (formerly known as Bell Helicopter) is showcasing its latest tech at the Fort Worth Now house as part of Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

The company highlights its “tenacious pursuit of flight” after its rebranding with a new vertical flight method. Nestled inside the Fair Market doors at Fort Worth Now house is a replica Bell Air Taxi on a simulated vertiport.

“This rebrand is not just about a new logo,” said Bell President and CEO Mitch Snyder. “We chose to do this because we see ourselves at the forefront of technology. We believe this refresh embodies the idea that we can make the vertical dimension more accessible.”

Bell staff take patrons through a registration process and “up the elevator” to the “rooftop of the building” for their virtual reality flight to takeoff to a destination of their choice.

A Bell representative explained that this is just how the experience will be in the not too distant future. Travelers will arrive at the vertiport location and take an elevator to the rooftop where they will be greeted by staff who will help them into the Bell Air Taxi.

Once aboard the eVTOL simulator and fitted with a VR headset, passengers select their destination from three choices — attend a gala, go to a golf tournament or arrive at your business meeting.

On their virtual ride passengers can use their hands to control dashboard functions like traffic reports, music stations, GPS and navigation and mobile communications like texting and video chat.

Caroline Moreton and her two friends flew in to Austin from Salt Lake City, Utah, where they attend the University of Utah, to get the SXSW experience.

“I kind of had no idea of what to expect [going into it]. Flying cars, it all seems so sci fi,” Moreton said. “It seems a lot more attainable [in real life] now that we’ve seen it.”

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