massachusetts-based startup alaka’i technologies has unveiled an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle that could democratize the future of air taxi transportation. skai, which was codesigned by BMW-owned global creative consultancy designworks, is powered by hydrogen fuel cells and employs a simple but safe design. 

alaka'i technologies unveils hydrogen-powered skai flying taxi designboom

images courtesy of alaka’i technologies



skai is powered by three hydrogen fuel cells that generate electricity to 6 quiet 100KW electric outrunner motors. it has a payload of up to 1,000lbs, and can carry 5 people at a time including the pilot, or 4 with autonomous control or using a ground-based pilot.


equipped with 5G wi-fi, the cabin is arranged in a V-formation to ensure each passenger can enjoy the 180º views, afforded by a wrap-around canopy. meanwhile, the rotor booms are swept back to prevent sightline obstructions as well as eliminating vibration and noise.

alaka'i technologies unveils hydrogen-powered skai flying taxi designboom



the benefit of using hydrogen fuel cells is that they generate zero pollution during use and have the lowest footprint from start to finish. alaka’i says the fuel cells used in skai vehicles will feature low-impact production and use environmentally neutral materials. at the end of use, each fuel cell can be 95% reused, and the rest can be recycled with 99% efficiency. 


hydrogen fuel cells also carry a higher weight-to-energy ration compared to batteries and gasoline, which means longer flight times, better range, and more payload capability. skai boasts a range of up to 400 miles and up to 4 hours of flight time. for specialized applications, alaka’i says auxiliary fuel tanks can be added to increase this to 10+ hours.



alaka’i designed the vehicle chassis with a safety-first approach, using a carbon composite which gives the airframe and landing skids an element of flexibility to reduce the effects of a hard landing. inside the cabin, impact-absorbing seats with a 4-point seat belt system keep passengers safe and secure.


there’s no coaxial props, ducted fans, tilting elements, wings or pusher props. skai is a basically a multi-passenger drone.

alaka'i technologies unveils hydrogen-powered skai flying taxi designboom



you don’t have to invent all these systems. we have to have planes that have super safety and to be super safe they have to be simple,’ explains daniel goldin, former NASA administrator between 1992-2001.if I have a complex system it’s going to not be safe because of all the different potential failure modes.’


redundancy is built in, with every key component featuring a backup so that the vehicle can continue to operate safely in the event of a system failure. skai’s six rotors feature no complicated gearbox, or tail-rotor connection, and if one stops working, skai will still be able to land.


if more than two go down, or should a catastrophic situation occur, an airframe parachute offers an additional fail-safe redundancy. skai is also equipped with next-generation fly-by-light controls and FAA certified avionics, automating certain aspects of the control system to ensure stable flight.


other key avionics include a triple-redundant autopilot sfurthermore, skai uses data links with military-grade encryption and flight data monitoring that emables real-time monitoring of every skai vehicle. 

alaka'i technologies unveils hydrogen-powered skai flying taxi designboom



simplicity goes across all aspects [of skai] and of course it is cheaper,goldin adds.


if things are going to be less expensive, and they are going to more affordable, in the long run it is going to make life better for americans who are not on the highend of the income side.’


we need to have individuals or groups of people in vehicles that go into the third-dimension where there is room. once we get these safe systems, it is going to change everything.’

alaka'i technologies unveils hydrogen-powered skai flying taxi designboom



skai is set to offer affordable, realistic applications in the commercial, private, freight, and personal air mobility markets,’ says brian morrison, co-founder, president and chief technology officer of alaka’i technologies.


[it] offers practical, real-life solutions to everything from relieving traffic congestion to delivering supplies during natural disasters.