Grab and Volovopter are mulling flight tests for air taxis in Singapore – here’s what we know

The results of a new feasibility study will “lay the groundwork for potential future cooperation, which could include launching services related to urban air mobility,” the companies said.
Business Insider/Lamont Mark Smith

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, it might just be a Grab.

The Singapore tech unicorn and ride-sharing company has partnered with German startup Volocopter – which boasts funding from brands like Geely and Daimler – to study the feasibility of running an air taxi service in the Republic and across South-east Asia, both companies sad in a joint release on Tuesday (Feb 18).

The study includes “exploring the possibility” of joint flight tests, research into suitable cities and routes to deploy air taxis in South-east Asian cities, and evaluating best-use cases for air taxis.

Read also: PHOTOS: I saw a prototype of Singapore’s first air taxi planned for 2024 – and it looks like something straight out of the future

The results will “lay the groundwork for potential future cooperation between both companies, which could include launching services related to urban air mobility,” the statement added.

Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said that the new partnership could help commercialise air taxis in South-east Asia, one of the world’s most-congested regions, and possibly connect it to other forms of public transport.

Grab’s ventures head Chris Yeo added that the startup had data on regional traffic patterns and customer insights that could be used to create air taxi services relevant to commuters and allow them to pick commute options based on their budget and time constraints.

Business Insider/Lamont Mark Smith

Last year, Volocopter – which has a Singapore office – launched a test flight in Marina Bay out of its VoloPort, which works like an airport.

According to Volocopter, its two-seater air taxis are specifically designed for flights within inner cities, and will remain stable even with micro turbulence around skyscrapers.

These air taxis, which look like helicopters but operate on drone technology – can take off and land vertically, carry up to 160 kilograms, and travel up to 30 kilometers, with a top speed of about 100km/hour. They are also much quieter than helicopters.

The vehicles run on rechargeable batteries, and can either be operated by a pilot using a joystick, or remotely from the ground.

 

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