2020 CES: Fort Worth’s Bell unveils new upgraded design for air taxi

Bell Helicopter Nexus 4EX

Adapting to the changing future of transportation, Fort Worth-based Bell Textron Inc. has developed a newer version of its “air taxi.”

Bell unveiled its hybrid-electric propulsion aircraft, the Nexus, last year. Ride-hailing company Uber is in partnership with Bell to incorporate Nexus in its ambitious aerial taxi service, Uber Air.

At the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show [CES] currently taking place at Las Vegas, Bell unveiled the Nexus 4EX, an evolved design of the futuristic aircraft.

“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,” Bell president and CEO Mitch Snyder said.

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The aircraft features Bell’s signature powered-lift concept with four tilting ducted fans that can be configured as hybrid-electric or all-electric.

The name 4EX signals the major changes in design from the previous version, with “4” representing the number of ducted fans on the aircraft and “E” for “electric”. The “X” stands for “experimental.”

The previous version included six ducted fans and a longer wing. The 4EX is expected to be more energy-efficient and capable, Bell said.

The aircraft can carry goods, people and data throughout a city.

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Bell is further disclosing its plans of integrating the transportation technologies with cities of the future or smart cities.

Bell is calling it “Nexus City.”

Bell envisions to utilize its Mobility as a Service (Maas) plan to serve future transportation needs. MaaS is a network to help govern and operate work and life in a smart city and the technologies available on-demand to all types of communities.

One of the key elements for its functionality is proper digital infrastructure, Bell said.

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Bell’s service is powered by Bell AerOS, a proprietary system running on Microsoft Azure created to manage fleet information, observe aircraft health, and manage the throughput of goods, products and predictive data and maintenance.

“Bell continues to lead the conversation beyond the aircraft to offer multi-modal transportation solutions and experiences within an interconnected digital network that will excite consumers, earn their trust and make their lives easier,” Snyder said.

Bell said it will reveal more details to the public when CES formally opens on Tuesday, Jan 7.

CES is an annual trade show that showcases the latest technologies in the trade.