German startup Volocopter has been working on its fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft since 2011.
After a series of prototypes and “more than 1,500” test flights, the company has developed the full-size pre-production prototype of its air taxi — named VoloCity.
On Wednesday, Volocopter released footage of VoloCity’s maiden flight, which you can watch on the video above.
The flight, which took place in December 2021, shows the aircraft taking off, hovering above the ground for one minute, and then successfully landing, remotely piloted by the operators with no people onboard.
The eVTOL has room for two passengers and hand luggage, with a 200kg capacity. It’s powered by 18 motors and nine rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can be swapped in five minutes.
Its flying range is 35km with a top speed of 110km/h.
Although it features 18 rotors on top, the company claims that it’s four times quieter than an average helicopter.
Most recently, the air taxi completed its first crewed flight in Paris,France, in preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where it’s aiming to provide its first passenger services.
— Volocopter (@volocopter) March 24, 2022
By this point, I know what you’re thinking. Is this really the type of flying taxi we were promised? I, for one, was expecting something closer to the DeLorean in Back to the Future, or at least the X-34 landspeeder in Star Wars.
In contrast, the VoloCity looks more like a weird combination of a helicopter and a drone.
While the flying taxis Volocopter and other companies have presented us with don’t have the futuristic vibe we’d like, we have to appreciate the technology, considering the many benefits it can bring to the table.
eVTOLs might not look that cool, but they are more sustainable vehicles, they can reduce our reliance on CO2-emitting planes and trains, and they can cut back on our travel time.
Get the Shift newsletter
Get the most important mobility news in your inbox each week.Follow @shift_tnw