German urban mobility company Volocopter plans to conduct flight tests of its electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle in Singapore next year to explore the vehicle’s performance in an urban environment.
The Volocopter is an emission-free, electrically-powered aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter, but is based on drone technology. Designed specifically for urban operations, it is capable of flying two people almost 30km and able to manoeuvre around skyscrapers. The vehicle also has a low noise profile, with the manufacturer claiming that, at a flying height of 100m, it cannot be heard over the typical background noise of a city.
Now, Volocopter has partnered with The Singapore Ministry of Transport, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the country’s Economic Development Board. The Bruchsal, Germany-based company says it will work with CAAS to establish the scope of the flight trials to ensure the necessary requirements are met. Volocopter also plans to establish a product design and engineering team in Singapore to support its expansion plans and to benefit from the technology and aeronautical expertise in the country. In addition, it aims to partner with local real-estate developers, mobility providers and businesses keen to drive development of a local air taxi sector.
“There is potential for air taxis, or eVTOLs, to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities,” said Ho Yuen Sang, director (aviation industry), CAAS. “Volocopter is at the forefront of such new and innovative technology in the aviation industry. CAAS is pleased to work together with Volocopter to study the technical capabilities and develop appropriate operational guidelines to facilitate such trials in Singapore.”
“There is potential for air taxis, or eVTOLs, to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities.” – Ho Yuen Sang, CAAS.
Volocopter, which counts Daimler and Intel among its investors, has a preliminary permit to fly from German authorities and is working with the European Aviation Safety Authority for a full commercial license. The vehicle has already flown in Germany and last year performed a public unmanned test flight in Dubai, in conjunction with the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai, which is also exploring air taxis.
Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, says Singapore is a logical partner due to its pioneering technology capabilities and city development work.
Singapore is a leader in urban mobility, with an already highly-efficient and affordable public transport network, but facing the challenge of a growing population and limited space for further expansion of traditional transportation modes. The island city-state is already the testing ground for a number of urban mobility and unmanned aerial system (UAS) technologies, including disruptive technologies such as mobility on-demand, self-driving vehicles, autonomous pods and aerial taxis. One ongoing UAS project involves CAAS and Airbus Helicopters in the Skyways commercial parcel delivery drone project.