Flying taxi anyone? Without a pilot? It does sound like something from science fiction but the Velocopter, an all-electric autonomous drone, is pretty close to becoming a working reality.
Velocopter are a German company and believe their two man flying taxi will reinvent urban travel.
The company’s ambitions are as lofty as their product. Their mission statement reads; “At Velocopter we are building the first manned, fully electric and safe Vtol in the world. We want to make humanity’s dream of flying come true and help modern cities resolve their increasing mobility issues.”
The Velocopter is a cross between a flying car and a drone. It will be used as a taxi and can either be piloted or flown autonomously. On their website the company claim: “”Wherever you want to travel, you just call an air taxi.
“In city centre take-off areas you can conveniently board every minute and be transported to the airport, large business parks or another Volocopter hub.
“Any congested main roads or bridges are simply overflown – autonomously and environmentally friendly, with no delays or detours.”
The idea that flying cars will one day fill our skies is one that has moved from science fiction and The Jetsons to real tech conversation in recent years.
Perhaps all those episodes of the cartoon have rooted the thought of shooting across the skies in personalised vehicles, but companies like Volocopter are only adding to it.
The flying taxi at CES
The German start-up is at CES in Las Vegas as one of Intel’s partners, and demonstrating its electric flying vehicle in the US for the first time.
It’s effectively a drone big enough to carry two people, which users can pilot manually or be flown around autonomously.
Volocopter have been in the news before. The firm has a deal with the authorities in Dubai to test its vehicles there, ahead of a full pilot program potentially launching there in the early 2020s.
The company is now looking to make waves in the wider tech industry by appearing alongside industry giant Intel at the show.
Speaking in front of the vehicle in the central plaza of CES, chief executive Florian Reuter said Volocopter had been designed “for big cities around the world, to combat congestion”.
“Our goal is to introduce autonomous air taxis within the next five years,” he said.
Mr Reuter said he believed the flying taxi had the ability to succeed because it was “socially acceptable” because its drone/quatcopter design meant it was quiet, while being all electric made it emissions-free.
The aim, according to Mr Reuter, is to “enable Jetsons fiction”, with flying taxis taking to the skies to ferry us around the world’s major cities.
Intel’s support and impending real world trials suggest a flying taxi is far more than a pipe dream.