Sunday 24 June 2018

Volocopter wants to be the world’s flying taxi service

The company says it wants to make “Jetsons fiction” a reality.

The German start-up is at CES in Las Vegas as one of Intel's partners (Martyn Landi/PA)
The German start-up is at CES in Las Vegas as one of Intel's partners (Martyn Landi/PA)

By Martyn Landi, Press Association Technology Correspondent

The idea that flying cars will one day fill our skies is one that has moved from science fiction and The Jetsons to real tech conversation in recent years.

Perhaps all those episodes of the cartoon have rooted the thought of shooting across the skies in personalised vehicles, but companies like Volocopter are only adding to it.

The German start-up is at CES in Las Vegas as one of Intel’s partners, and demonstrating its electric flying vehicle in the US for the first time.

It’s effectively a drone big enough to carry two people, which users can pilot manually or be flown around autonomously.

Volocopter have been in the news before – the firm has a deal with the authorities in Dubai to test its vehicles there, ahead of a full pilot program potentially launching there in the early 2020s.

The company is now looking to make waves in the wider tech industry by appearing alongside industry giant Intel at the show.

Speaking in front of the vehicle in the central plaza of CES, chief executive Florian Reuter said Volocopter had been designed “for big cities around the world, to combat congestion”.

“Our goal is to introduce autonomous air taxis within the next five years,” he said.

Mr Reuter said he believed the vehicle had the ability to succeed because it was “socially acceptable” because its drone/quatcopter design meant it was quiet, while being all electric made it emissions-free.

The aim, according to Mr Reuter, is to “enable Jetsons fiction”, with flying taxis taking to the skies to ferry us around the world’s major cities.

Intel’s support and impending real world trials suggest this is far more than a pipe dream.

Press Association

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