Italian designer Andrea Ponti has revealed KITE, a fully-electric autonomous drone concept to connect China’s Greater Bay Area. Developed in response to the restrictions on air travel and tourism experienced in 2020, the passenger drone imagines an alternative mode of transport in the post-COVID era.
The restrictions that followed the Covid-19 pandemic have heavily hit air travel and tourism, especially in Asia. A key player in restarting the economy and tourism in Asia is the Greater Bay Area, a large industrial region in Southern China, which includes nine cities and the two special-administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
This fully electric, zero-emission, unmanned vehicle features cutting-edge technology and a sophisticated, minimalist design that reflects the spirit of Hong Kong and its region. The name KITE was inspired by the black kite, a majestic migratory bird that can be found in Hong Kong during the winter. With a 150cm wing span it is an extremely fast, agile and intelligent bird of prey.
KITE’s rounded and compact fuselage minimizes drag and optimizes maneuverability during flight. Its interior layout recalls a private jet, with a central aisle and one line of seats on either side. The cabin can be accessed through a single rear door, while the glass side panels work as emergency exits.
KITE is propelled by four double-helix rotors attached to the composite fuselage which features LED headlights for landing and low-altitude flying, and retractable landing skids. On the ground, it docks onto a platform for embarking/ disembarking and recharging in between flights.
The cabin offers four single seats with 4-point quick-release harnesses, one front screen and two rear screens that display takeoff, flight and landing information. The seats can recline and they feature a polycarbonate shell, with soft fabric cover and leather cushions. Asymmetric seat stands create under-seat storage space for carry-ons, whereas the area behind the back seats offers storage for bigger luggage. Buttons and retractable trays are integrated in the armrests for maximum in-flight comfort.
In this transition phase when air travel has decreased significantly, KITE offers a new option for inter-city transit within the Greater Bay Area. With its sophisticated design, composite materials and advanced technology, KITE is a sustainable and attractive alternative to more traditional forms of air or land transport. KITE also embodies the innovative drive of this up-and-coming region and it promotes the advancement of scientific and technological research, not only in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, but in all of Asia.