Volocopter first flew onto our radar in 2017 when we learned of its extraordinary VoloCity aircraft, which in crude terms, looked like a bunch of drones welded together.
Some serious work has gone into the 18-rotor, vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft in the intervening years, and the German company has just released a video (below) showing the maiden flight of the first full-size prototype.
Sporting a larger design and, for the first time, a horizontal stabilizer, the electric-powered VoloCity looks as steady and comfortable as a regular helicopter during its short maiden flight at Pontoise airfield near Paris, France. The successful outing paves the way for longer, more demanding test flights as Volocopter edges toward its goal of deploying the VoloCity for passenger services at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The VoloCity can carry two people and be flown autonomously, remotely, or by an onboard pilot. The aircraft has a top speed of 68 mph (110 kph) and a range of 22 miles (35 km), making it ideal for short urban hops. Despite the large number of rotors, Volocopter claims the VoloCity is four times quieter than a conventional helicopter, making for a more peaceful ride.
Following hundreds of test flights of earlier versions of the VoloCity, the company has gained permits to fly in crewed or uncrewed configurations for trial flights in cities such as Hamburg, Dubai, Helsinki, and Singapore.
If it can make a success of the Paris Olympics, it could convince regulators in other countries to green light urban taxi services.
The Volocopter team said its most recent flight was the “culmination of all the hard work that went into getting the VoloCity off the ground and is the first major step for us here at Volocopter as we gear up for our commercial launch.”
It added: “And though the sky’s our only limit, we are working hard to make sure our final air taxi is as safe as can be so that both the regulators and our customers can sit back, relax, and enjoy peace of mind.”
Volocopter is competing with a slew of other companies in the race to build a safe, reliable, and efficient electric aircraft for urban transportation.
The company is also developing similar aircraft for longer journeys, as well as for transportation of freight.