The flight controllers inside Intel's drones have enabled some incredible spectacles, but can they safely carry passengers across town in an 18-rotor aircraft? That's the end game of the company's partnership with Germany's Volocopter, and onstage at CES today it gave an early glimpse of what such a feat might look like.
The Volocopter first emerged as a pretty out-there flying taxi concept back in 2013, but since then it has made some serious strides. It has completed manned test flights in Germany and unmanned flights over Dubai, a city that hopes to use them as part of an autonomous flying taxi service sometime in the next decade.
But the flight at CES in Las Vegas today marks its first steps in the US. Toward the end of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote, the Volocopter lifted off on a short flight live on stage inside a theater, although it was tethered to the ground and behind bars as a safety precaution.
Volocopter also revealed today that Krzanich rode aboard the aircraft as its very first passenger, in a remotely piloted flight at an exhibition hall in Germany last month.
"That was fantastic," Krzanich said once back on the ground. "That was the best flight I have ever had. Everybody will fly one of these someday."
You can check out the Volocopter in flight at CES just before the 2-hour 23-minute mark of the video below. The second video provides an overview of the technology.
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