WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As multiple technologies develop and converge the future of transport is increasingly looking skywards.
The team at Volocopter, who in 2017 flew their flying taxi around the skyscrapers of Dubai, has ticked off another first, this time sending its 18-rotor unmanned aircraft into the skies over Stuttgart in Germany as part of its first urban demonstration flight in a European city center. The short jaunt follows a string of other recent demo flights as the aviation startup, which is now backed by Mercedes-Benz, looks to make real inroads with its audacious flying taxi in the latter parts of the year as elsewhere other companies including Airbus, Aston Martin, Boeing, Skai, Rolls Royce, Uber, and many others start preparing to build drone air traffic control systems, flying taxi stations, and infrastructure necessary to start operating actual flying taxi services from several global locations in the near future.
In the world of flying taxis, Volocoper is certainly among the busier players on the scene, and in the past year we’ve seen the company expand to Singapore, introduce a new, more powerful version and fly it amid airport traffic for the first time.
This latest outing for the Volocopter was part of a two-day event called Vision Smart City, which centers on a research project out of the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences and explores the future of mobility. This includes an exploration of self-driving cars, connected cities and more environmentally friendly forms of transport, with Daimler owned Mercedes-Benz among the exhibitors.
The unmanned flight only lasted a few minutes and didn’t see the aircraft covering any kind of distance because it was restricted to the airspace above the sports fields from which it took off and landed. But it gave the large nearby crowd an idea of the kind of noise such aircraft are likely to bring to cities in the not too distant future.
“Our Volocopter air taxis open up a completely new dimension in urban mobility,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter GmbH. “As Stuttgart has seen today, they fly safely, quietly and are fast approaching the implementation stage. Volocopter air taxis are able to ease traffic congestion in major cities around the world, also here in Germany.”
We have seen the Volocopter take flight in Germany before, but in the relative safety of airfields away from populated areas. This flight is billed as the first to take place within an urban area in Europe, and having set up shop in Singapore the company is planning to build its first flying taxi station in the city and kick off test flights by year’s end.