The once-futuristic concept of electrically powered urban air travel came incrementally closer this week with the trial flight of a Volocopter urban air vehicle in Singapore.
The flight above Marina Bay, in central Singapore, lasted about two minutes and covered a distance of about 1.5 km at an average speed of 45km/h (24 kt) and a cruising height of 130 ft. The flight was was controlled by an on-board by a pilot, although future flights are expected to eventually be fully autonomous. Volcopter said the flight, ‘kicks-off Volocopter’s efforts to bring commercial air taxi services to Singapore.’
Volocopter also unveiled its prototype VoloPort, a flying taxi port at Marina Bay. The Voloport has a landing pad and a passenger terminal.
Chief executive of Volocopter Florian Reuter said,’ Never before have people been this close to experiencing what Urban Air Mobility in the city of tomorrow will feel like.’
Assistant director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, Tan Kong Hwee said, ‘We are happy to support Volocopter in their development plans and hope that this is a first step towards the creation of more exciting business and job opportunities in Singapore.’
Concerns about the future growth and safety of urban air vehicles include questions over noise, safe flight paths and exposure to severe weather. Volocopter recently unveiled its proposed Volocity future aircraft, which it says is half as loud at 75 metres distance as a conventional helicopter is at 500 m.
Volocopters‘s investors include German industrial and automotive company Daimler, Chinese car maker Geely, and Intel Capital, the investment division of the computer chip maker.