Home Startups Ryse Aero’s single-person eVTOL is like a flying ATV • businessroundups.org

Ryse Aero’s single-person eVTOL is like a flying ATV • businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Air taxis make up most of the hype around eVTOLs – electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles – despite their long road to market, high upfront costs and a plethora of regulatory hurdles. Ryse Aero Technologiesan Ohio-based startup that builds aircraft similar to flying ATVs thinks eVTOL technology would be better used in a shorter-term market.

The company, newly established in April 2021 reservations open for its ultralight Recon aircraft – a single-seat eVTOL with take-off and landing capabilities on land and water and a maximum altitude of 400 feet. It is powered by six independent motors, each with removable and rechargeable batteries.

“The idea was to make something extremely safe, extremely reliable that anyone can fly with,” Ryse CEO Mick Kowitz told businessroundups.org, noting that the Recon, weighing 286 pounds, is a classified as an ultralight aircraft. That means it’s intended for single-person use, can’t be flown over congested areas, and can’t carry heavy cargo.

It also means that the Federal Aviation Administration does not prescribe a set number of required training hours, so basically for no one could be fly one.

“We give about an hour to two hours of training and you operate it,” Kowitz said.

So far, Ryse has built four prototypes, as well as some pre-production vehicles that are currently being tested with farmers. The startup sees many potential use cases for the aircraft — search and rescue, parks and recreation, oil and gas exploration — but Ryse’s go-to-market strategy focuses on the U.S. agricultural industry.

“We’re really aiming for reduced crop compaction, reduced soil compaction, so we can come to your fields in the planting season,” said Kowitz. “Maybe you have an infestation in the field and the ground is very wet, but you have to get out anyway. What farmers do is they drive as far as they can with their pickup truck or their all-terrain vehicle, and sometimes they walk two or three miles to where the problem is. The Recon can get them there pretty quickly without too much compaction.”

Soil compaction is also caused by the weighting of the soil through foot traffic, the trampling of cattle, cars or other agricultural machinery. This compresses pores that would otherwise transport water or air, stunting root growth and causing oxygen deficiencies.

Aside from preventing soil compaction, Kowitz says the Recon can save farmers, ranchers and vineyard owners an even more precious commodity: their time. The Recon has enough battery power to fly 10 miles there and 10 miles back, which equates to about 25 minutes of play at a top speed of 63 miles per hour.

aerial view of Ryse's recon evtol

Image Credits: Ryse Aero Technologies

“Your time is valuable, and in the farming world a lot of people don’t necessarily value their time because it’s a commodity they feel they have enough of,” said Kowitz. “In their farm life they have also lived with the idea that time is what you spend walking to that field, but if you can find places and save yourself an hour, two hours a day, what is it worth?”

How about $150,000? That’s what the Recon will be going for once it hits the market. And that might seem like a pretty penny to an urban slicker like you or me, but in the farming world, that’s nothing – at least according to Kowitz. A tractor alone costs about $500,000, and many farms buy more than one.

While it’s still too early to know for sure how long a Recon can last in the field, Kowitz said Ryse has conducted environmental and vibration and sensor tests and believes the plane likely has an eight to 10 year lifespan.

There is already a demand for the Recon. Kowitz said Ryse has already earmarked about $15 million in future reservation revenue, meaning 100 potential customers have put their names down to secure a delivery date.

The only possible problem the company faces is whether its planes can actually be used for commercial operations. The FAA ruling on ultralight aircraft, Part 103, stipulates that the vehicle may only be used for recreational or sporting purposes. Ryse said there are plenty of operators using this type of aircraft to improve their operations without breaking the rule, and the company has held talks with the FAA about the use case “without concern.” The FAA did not comment specifically on Ryse, but the agency told businessroundups.org it is evaluating each case on a case-by-case basis.

Ryse shouldn’t worry too much about it as the company is building a production facility and aims to produce 10 vehicles per month through 2023, with deliveries starting at the end of the year. The company has raised $5.5 million and hopes to raise another $25 million for its Series B round to ramp production to 100 units per month by next year and 2025.

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