Volocopter GmbH is the global leader in the development of vertically launching, fully electrical multicopters for the transport of people and of heavy lifting cargo drones.
In 2016 Volocopter was granted provisional licensing for a two seater Volocopter by the German aviation authority, and in 2017 the aviation start-up entered into an agrement with RTA Dubai over the global premiere of autotonomously flying air taxi.
Find more about the future of mobility, challenges, advantages and goals, in our interview with Mr. ALEXANDER ZOSEL, Co-founder&Chief Innovation Advisor Volocopter
R.M. Volocopter is the first autonomous air taxi that has carried out a successful test flight inside a city. How long do we have to wait until we see Volocopter operating at full capacity in cities?
A.Z. We expect the first commercial Volocopter routes to open in the next three to five years. And it is my personal goal that by the time I retire in 12 years there will be full Volocopter systems operating in ten cities around the world!
R.M. You have designed a very complex autonomous system, capable to take off, land and even carry a passenger. What were the main challenges that you faced during this process?
A.Z. When we started building the first proof of concept in 2011, technology was on the edge of enabling manned electric vertical flight, but not quite off the shelf. We had to improve the motors and rotor blades and make adjustments to the software, in order to achieve our goal. Once we had proven that manned electric vertical flight on a multicopter was indeed possible – the majority was convinced it wasn’t – we moved forward quickly always convinced that there will be a solution to the many challenges.
R.M. We know that one of the main advantages of air taxis is time saving. But at what cost? Will air taxi be an affordable alternative to other traditional means of transportation?
A.Z. Once operated at scale, taking an air taxi will be comparable in cost to taking a taxi on the ground. While taking the Volocopter is unlikely to ever beat the price for a bus or metro ticket, it will be affordable for many and not just a select few. In order to ensure that, it is important to increase the number of Volocopters available on the busiest routes.
R.M. How will Volocopter incorporate itself into the existing infrastructure of cities? Are there any special regulations that you must follow?
A.Z. First and foremost, we need to comply with the certification requirements of the aviation safety authorities to be allowed to take part in air traffic. This is something we are already working on and are confident to receive.
Volocopter air taxis services will start as point to point connections from one mobility hub to another – the airport to the main train station for example – before turning into a full network servicing an entire city. Air taxis will supplement the existing solutions on the busies routes and busiest times.
R.M. What is the main feature that sets you apart from the competition?
A.Z. The Volocopter is specifically designed for the us in inner cities. This means that we fly emission free as we are battery powered, thanks to the 18 rotors, the Volocopter features a stable flight even when navigating through skyscrapers and micro turbulances around them. Finally, the Volocopter is very quiet in flight and will not be heard on the ground and backdrop of a regular city when flying at a height of 100 meters. Furthermore, we have a time advantage, as we started building and testing air taxis a good three years before other projects started seriously exploring the space.