Volocopter floats over Singapore bay in "most advanced flight yet"
German company Volocopter has again moved to build up its presence in Singapore, this time by flying its 18-rotor aircraft over the island nation’s Marina Bay. This very public outing for the Volocopter is described as its most advanced yet, and the final hoop the flying taxi had to jump through to prove it can operate safely in the area.
Getting its start in Germany as a crowdfunded project way back in 2013, the Volocopter opened up its office in Singapore late last year with its sights set on introducing a commercial air taxi service in the area. Just yesterday, the company then revealed a prototype of its VoloPort, the terminal that passengers will use to board and hop off its flying taxis.
The latest version of the Volocopter is the most powerful yet, with the ability to cover 35 km (21 mi) on each charge and reach speeds of 110 km/h (68 mph), while taking two people along for the ride.
Before passengers start hopping aboard, however, the company is busy proving the safety and reliability of its rather audacious aircraft. Most recently, this involved months of intensive testing in Germany as the team put the new design through its paces, and then a further testing phase in the local Singaporean conditions.
The Volocopter 2X, as the model is known, then took off on its first manned flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay on Tuesday, covering a distance of 1.5 km (0.9 mi) over a two-minute jaunt, with an average cruising altitude of 40 m (131 ft).
A pilot was onboard and controlling the Volocopter 2X through the air using a joystick, although the vehicle is designed to eventually fly on its own, with passengers simply hopping aboard, punching in their destination and letting the autonomous flight software carry them away.
“The flight today in Singapore was the most advanced Volocopter flight yet and the piloted flight was as stable as ever,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “At the same time, we are showcasing a prototype of our full-scale VoloPort Infrastructure, allowing for a realistic demonstration of air taxi boarding and maintenance services. Never before have people been this close to experiencing what Urban Air Mobility in the city of tomorrow will feel like.”
Volocopter also describes this as the “last trial of a demanding test series to verify and validate the ability of Volocopter air taxis to fly over the area,” though much more testing and development will be needed before we see these things take to the sky in a commercial sense. Still, with the support of Singapore’s government authorities, including its civil aviation regulator, the company continues to make good progress.
Check out the video of the Volocopter 2X over Marina Bay below.