Showing off a fully functioning flying taxi is one thing, having a plan in place for how you'll move hundreds of them around big cities is another. German aviation company Volocopter has today shared its plans for urban air taxi infrastructure, envisioning dozens of transport hubs scattered around urban centers that would move tens of thousands of passengers per day.
With so much still to play out in terms of technological development and regulatory approval, it's hard to take any plan for fully fleshed out air taxi infrastructure as anything more than a thought experiment. But with so much money being poured into the industry from the likes of Boeing and Airbus, along with countless smaller startups, it's certainly a good time to start thinking about how our cities would function with fleets of flying taxis zipping around overhead.
Already NASA is doing this in a way, with a nationwide drone traffic control system under development. It has also teamed up with Uber to develop traffic control systems for its flying taxis, with the ride-sharing company hoping to launch its UberAir service in Dubai, Dallas and LA in 2020.
Now Volocopter is keen to share its ideas. Its concept describes both Volo-Ports and Volo-Hubs. The latter would work like cable car stations, with the company's two-seater, autonomous aircraft landing and taking off from pads every 30 seconds. After landing, each vehicle would move inside the hub, where its passengers hop out and its batteries are swapped, readying it for takeoff again.
Volo-Ports, meanwhile, are basically helipads that offer on-demand travel, so users can hail a Volocopter from a hotel or shopping mall that has its own port, for example.
The company expects the first complete Volocopter air taxi systems to be in place within the next 10 years, with capacity to move 100,000 passengers per hour.
"We expect any air taxi transport system to begin with a point to point connection and over time grow into a system of dozens of Volo-Hubs in a city." says Alex Zosel, Co-Founder of Volocopter. "Once operated at scale, flying won't be significantly more expensive than taking a cab, but it will be significantly faster."
You can check out the video below for an overview of how Volocopter sees it all fitting together.
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