Volocopter, a German aviation start-up, will be putting its air taxis to test in Singapore in the second half of 2019.
In a statement on Wednesday (Oct 18), Volocopter said that the air taxi trials in Singapore are supported by the Ministry of Transport, Economic Development Board and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).
CAAS will collaborate with the firm to establish the scope of the test flights and ensure that they meet the necessary requirements.
CAAS director of aviation industry Ho Yuen Sang said that there is potential for air taxis to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities. He added that Volocopter is at the forefront of such new and innovative technology in the aviation industry.
Although these air taxis resemble helicopters, the Volocopter is actually based on drone technology and powered by electricity.
Before it hits the skies next year, here are 5 things we know about the Volocopter air taxi.
1. Distance and weight
Volocopter’s air taxi can fly two people for distances up to 30km.
Apart from ferrying passengers, air taxis are designed for inner city missions and can carry 160kg.
2. No pilot
The Volocopter 2X is operated by a single joystick which controls altitude, balance and landing, according to its website.
Volocopters can be flown fully autonomous with a pilot on a joystick, or remote-controlled from the ground.
Even when the pilot lets go of the joystick, the multicopter will retain its prevailing position.
The machine can even fly completely on its own “in areas which autonomous operations are possible”, the company said.
The Volocopter 2X has 18 rotors that operate within a narrow frequency band. This means that the rotors sound only twice as loud as one single rotor.
In comparison, a helicopter has main and tail rotors and a turbine, which makes it many times louder than an air taxi.
Volocopter’s website states that the Volocopter 2X, within 75m, sounds equally as loud as the smallest helicopter within seven times the distance.
4. Emergency and safety
There is an emergency parachute on board and numerous support systems for flight control and stabilisation.
Critical components such as propellers, electric motors and battery packs are designed to assure “the highest degree of reliability”, the company said.
It also promised that communication networks are connected via the latest optical fibres.
In Sept 2017, Volocopter performed a public unmanned test flight in Dubai in September 2017. It said that it has been granted a certificate for manned flights since 2016 in Germany.
5. Expansion to Singapore
The company said that to support its expansion plans, it will be setting up a product design and engineering team in Singapore.
It will also partner real estate developers and mobility providers in Singapore to establish infrastructure that can support flight testing.