This article was published on April 15, 2022

Watch Volocopter’s full-size prototype air taxi take its very first flight

Is urban air mobility coming?

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

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.

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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.

Volocopter air taxi
The VoloCity. Credit: Volocopter

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.

Volocopter air taxi first flight
The eVTOL during its first flight. Credit: Volocopter

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.

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.

The DeLorean: Credit: Universal

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.

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