There are many things that you will find similar in nearly any urban city in the world. One similarity is congested mobility systems. With so many people needing to get about a city for day-to-day activities, traffic can become cumbersome, to say the least. City buses and train systems help alleviate some traffic issues, but many cities are still looking for alternative urban mobility solutions. For the last 11 years, Volocopter, based out of Bruchsal, Germany, has single-mindedly been striving towards creating just a solution with the use of drone technology.
There is no denying that over the last few years, drones have given the world access to more possibilities than imaginable. They are being used to conduct scientific experiments and research, changing the landscape of the agricultural, security, inspection, and many more industries. Drones are being used to transport everything from food and electronics to medical supplies in suburban, urban, and rural settings. As drone use cases increase, so has the idea of using them to transport people. Companies like China’s Ehang and Germany’s Volocopter have been racing to become the first unmanned urban mobility providers.
On April 13, 2022, Volocopter proved that they just may be the winners of the urban drone mobility race. After countless iterations, Volocopter finally had the chance to take their concept out of the hanger, out of simulations, and fly the drone over a field in Germany. The test flight took place in December of 2021, but news of its success wasn’t released until recently. The name of the drone is VoloCity, and it is poised to do more than just transport people around urban environments.
VoloCity stands 2.5m and has room for 2 passengers, along with hand luggage at a maximum take off weight of 900kg. At the top of the drone is a ring of 18 rotors. Each rotor has a diameter of 2.3m with a total diameter of 11.3m. Powering the drone are 9 lithium-ion battery packs. Batteries can be swapped out in 5 minutes meaning the drone can quickly transition between flights. On a single battery charge, VoloCity can travel within a 35km range at a maximum speed of 110km/h. Like most drones, the rechargeable batteries on VoloCity make it a zero emission vehicle, a critical goal for urban mobility. Unlike most drones, VoloCity’s rotors are whisper quiet, illuminating concerns of noise pollution.
Volocopter aims to create an urban mobility network by strategically placing vertiports on the rooftops of buildings. Passengers will schedule a ride through an app on their smartphones. The same app will provide passengers with options to choose a route for VoloCity. Once in VoloCity, the drone goes through a series of safety checks before autonomously taking off and completing the app-designated mission.
Volocopter has been continuing testing the drone at Pontoise airfield, northwest of Paris, in preparation for having VoloCity ready for use during the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. These tests will ensure that VoloCity is ready for the commercial market. “And though the sky’s our only limit,” states Volocopter, “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.”