Earlier this month, the German city of Stuttgart hosted the maiden public flight of VoloCity, an electric air taxi developed by the company Volocopter. The four-minute flight, which took place on Saturday 14 September, was watched by a crowd of 12,500. The craft, which resembles a helicopter, potentially has a big future ahead of it, having attracted the interest of several manufacturers.
An electric air taxi capable of carrying passengers up to 35 kilometres, VoloCity performed its maiden flight in public on Saturday 14 September in Stuttgart, Germany. It was the first flight by an aircraft of this type over an urban area in Europe, as reported by FranceInfo. A crowd of 12,500 gathered to watch the air taxi, which resembles a helicopter, take to the skies.
A four-minute flight
The electric aircraft flew for four minutes after taking off from the city’s Mercedes-Benz Museum. The event was organised by German industrial giants and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, just one of the companies that has invested in Volocopter, the company behind VoloCity.
Daimler provided 10 per cent of the funding needed to make the project a reality, as reported by AeroSpatium. The other partners in the VoloCity development programme include Chinese carmaker Geely and US semiconductor specialists Intel. Both they and other manufacturers are taking a major interest in vehicles such as this autonomous flying taxi, which they believe will be a central part of the transport landscape in the future.
New investors poised to come on board?
Some experts are predicting the end of the combustion engine’s domination of transport and even the demise of less-polluting vehicles. Drone passenger transport projects are growing in number around the world and attracting significant capital. Volocopter is hoping to start raising more funding by the end of 2019.
The aim is to move beyond demonstration flights and to bring VoloCity on to the market. “We’ll be ready to launch in the next two to five years but it all depends on the aviation authorities,” said Volocopter CEO Stephan Wolf. In the meantime, the company will continue to engage in trials such as the one carried out in Stuttgart.
A conclusive test
The Stuttgart flight involved no passengers, with the aircraft being controlled from the ground by its pilot. Possessing 18 rotors and a top speed of 110 km/h, VoloCity performed its flight at a distance of several hundred metres from the watching crowd. “You could see that the safety levels were optimal. It’s the best system we could put on the market,” said one of the aircraft’s developers, Alexander Zosel, expressing the sense of satisfaction among the project’s heads.
Yet, as well as getting approval from the authorities to fly the aircraft, Volocopter will also have to convince the general public to use this new form of transport.
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