Volocopter gets safety nod in push for air taxis of the future

Volocopter gets safety nod in push for air taxis of the future
Credit: Volocopter

How far off are we from hopping on and off air taxis as a familiar local mode of transport? Eyes this week were fixed on one company aggressively keeping up its bit to open commercial routes and bring this type of mobility to life.

Volocopter on Wednesday presented its latest air design, dubbed VoloCity. The machine can accommodate two people and hand luggage.

Ben Sampson, Aerospace Testing International, noted that this is actually the fourth electrical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) iteration but "the first that meets the new European Aviation Safety Agency standards."

"The EASA international certification baseline published in July 2019 (EASA SC-VTOL-01) requires to be as safe as airliners. The VoloCity is developed to live up to these standards," said the company's web site.

Popular Mechanics saw the news as a sign that we could be getting a step closer to the flying taxi.

Volocopter is a German company, and made the news back in 2011 with a of an electrically powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The company also got headlines in its public flight performances in Dubai in 2017 and during CES last year.

Its to-do list is driven by a missing part of the challenge. In addition to getting the to work successfully, the work ahead is to build out the environment that will have these air taxis operating realtime. As the company news release said, it was about "building up the operational environment such as the physical take-off and landing infrastructure and integrating into air traffic management systems of interested cities."

David Grossman talked about this in Popular Mechanics. "Even with a working VoloCity, there's still the infrastructure of flying taxis to build out."

Volocopter gets safety nod in push for air taxis of the future
Credit: Volocopter

Moving forward, the company news release reported that "Volocopter is working with global players like Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) to optimize passenger and ground procedures and align regulations with the relevant authorities."

Ben Sampson in Aerospace Testing International: "Volocopter is also developing a network of terminals, so-called "VoloPorts" and is working on ways to integrate its air taxis into air traffic management systems of cities. The company, which plans to run the aircraft and infrastructure for fleets of Volocopters, is partnering with companies such as Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport to achieve this."

Earlier this year, Tech.eu interviewed Volocopter's Alex Zosel, who was asked how would the air copters integrate into everyday city life.

"Volocopter's biggest focus right now is building up an infrastructure for mobility in the third dimension...The first Volocopter routes will likely connect main transportation hubs, such as airports and business parks, to city centers. For example, we currently have a project with Fraport AG, which is one of the biggest airport managers in the world. The idea is to link up our air taxi service with trains, buses and commercial airlines and provide a connection to and from Frankfurt Airport. There will be a lot of changes in mobility in cities over the next few years and we want to be part of building a new ecosystem for air taxi providers."

Woodrow Bellamy III, editor-in-chief of Avionics: The company has plans for the new design's first test flight to occur later this year in Singapore. Bellamy wrote about the taxi features, which include 18 total rotors with aerodynamic rotor beams and a stabilizer designed to increase stability in flight and additional lift.

The company news release noted technical and safety features that included redundancy in all critical systems, a low noise signature and "rigid commitment to the inner-city mission."

The commercial variant will have the calculated range up to 35 km (21.7 miles). The VoloCity can fly at a speed of 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour).

If a little less than 22 miles does not seem to be very far, one can be reminded that this is designed to be a local means of getting around, as an on-demand city air taxi. "But Volocopter hopes the VoloCity doesn't need to hit top speeds or have extended range, at least at first," said Grossman.


Explore further

Frankfurt airport working on flying taxis

More information: press.volocopter.com/index.php … ir-mobility-aircraft

© 2019 Science X Network

Citation: Volocopter gets safety nod in push for air taxis of the future (2019, August 23) retrieved 17 September 2019 from https://techxplore.com/news/2019-08-volocopter-safety-air-taxis-future.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
93 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 23, 2019
I love everything about this design, its redundancy, simplicity, non polluting factor, etc. This IS the complete reimagination of the helicopter. No tail rotor, no pitch control rods, no swash plates. It's a mechanic's dream. However, extending it's ability to stay aloft and provide better mileage is the main issue. How could you do this besides inventing better batteries? It's actually very simple. Solar power recharge blimp stations. These craft loiter in the air at designated distances apart and allow the new 18 rotor eVTOL's to park midair and switch out battery packs on the fly. These blimps are covered in solar panels and carry an undercarriage landing deck for these crafts to land on. Before they switch out battery packs, the eVTOL's plug into the blimps main power supply to maintain spin up and vertical thrust. The battery pack switch completes, the used up battery pack stays behind and recharges for the next, and the freshly recharged eVTOL goes along its merry way. Mo Mileage

Aug 23, 2019
Solar power recharge blimp stations.
The Solar Constant is about 1300 Watts/square-meter.

Aug 23, 2019
air foil wings that slightly droop like a shark's pectoral fins could add more potential energy capture

Aug 23, 2019
If a little less than 22 miles does not seem to be very far, one can be reminded that this is designed to be a local means of getting around, as an on-demand city air taxi.


The actual range is less than 11 miles, because it also has to return.

If a 10 mile hop back and forth seems adequate to you, remember that it has to re-charge between each trip, and that takes time and done repeatedly will destroy the batteries.

A regular taxi will complete a 22 mile round-trip five times in the time it takes to recharge this copter.

Aug 23, 2019
Not to dampen the feathering of its rotors

For those who dream
dream of flying in this sky
need to think of these consequences
before this dream is shattered
to climb aboard and fly to work
in this, this hover bird
although it fly upon its wing
this dream, this shattered dream
shattered by these millions
that doth fly this air by night or day

For before we lose sight of this dream so dreamt
what are these consequences
when everyone alights and fly's willy-nilly, fly's hither and dither
there will be more scrap crashed plane on the ground than flying in this sky
- as to this trip to work - will be - recovery in casualties intensive care of shattered bones –

For upon recovery to dream this shattered dream once again in this this plane brand new anew

Aug 23, 2019
Really, 22 miles on a spanking brand new battery
If a little less than 22 miles does not seem to be very far, one can be reminded that this is designed to be a local means of getting around, as an on-demand city air taxi.


The actual range is less than 11 miles, because it also has to return.

If a 10 mile hop back and forth seems adequate to you, remember that it has to re-charge between each trip, and that takes time and done repeatedly will destroy the batteries.

A regular taxi will complete a 22 mile round-trip five times in the time it takes to recharge this copter.

Making an 11mile trip as the crow fly's
In calm air
One person
With no shopping
No heavy brief case stuffed with overtime
Then a howling gale with lashing rain starts half way home

That Tiguan standing on the drive is suddenly looking attractive, safe and warm

Aug 23, 2019
A fleet of volocopters means you may have multiway circuit routes instead of return trips. Battery degradation would not be something that would go unmonitored and unaddressed.
Also Granville here are some preliminary specs of their first projected model, the VoloCity:
https://www.voloc...pecs.pdf

It says 2 pax, so I guess that's short for 2 passengers?

Aug 24, 2019
35km seems plenty for shuttles e.g. from an airport to city center.

No reason not to have recharging capability at the destination as well since the number of landing spots will be fairly limited so "roundtrip range" is irrelevant.

Aug 24, 2019
Battery degradation would not be something that would go unmonitored and unaddressed.


That wasn't the point.

If one trip equals one full recharge, the eventual replacement batteries will become a huge expense.

No reason not to have recharging capability at the destination as well


It would be pretty much mandatory anyhow, since the range of the copter will diminish with the age and use of the battery, so you have to plan your routes so you have spare energy in case you need to divert or go back, and that you can still complete the route with worn-out batteries.

Otherwise the economics of this thing will be rather interesting, since it would be eating batteries like bread.

Aug 24, 2019
After all, this isn't moon landing. Nobody would step on a helicopter that has 60 seconds of battery left when it reaches the landing zone. This isn't a car that can "limp home" at reduced speed when the battery is out - this is an aircraft, and it will fall off the sky.

So the full 37 km range is not practically attainable in any case.

Aug 24, 2019
""""******If a little less than 22 miles does not seem to be very far, one can be reminded that this is designed to be a local means of getting around, as an on-demand city air taxi.

A regular taxi will complete a 22 mile round-trip five times in the time it takes to recharge this copter.""""""******

Not of concern at all, this is the Golden Era, a Pioneering start as Henry Ford back in the day with the road vehicle, the very start of the manned drone Era, and what is so Exciting is the fact that Volocopter has made Real progress in making it happen by getting this revolution started as well as Regulation approval ! Battery Tech will improve there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever, the important factor is, that we have to get and Active Manned drone flying on a regular basis, that will pave the way for the battery tech to improve.

Aug 24, 2019
_______________________
After all, this isn't moon landing. Nobody would step on a helicopter that has 60 seconds of battery left when it reaches the landing zone. This isn't a car that can "limp home" at reduced speed when the battery is out - this is an aircraft, and it will fall off the sky.

So the full 37 km range is not practically attainable in any case.
_____________________

Entirely wrong, and in fact it will "limp" to the nearest landing zone or open field without crash long before the battery dies. Thresholds are programmed in. The voltages can be accurately monitored and the system is programmed to let you know when you need to land to avoid loss of power. Simple Accurate brilliance.
Like was mentioned flying times will be extended without any doubt, this is the very start of the revolution, one can just imagine how enormous this is going to become it is simply beyond Fantastic ! !

Aug 24, 2019
Does it have a pop-up parachute, as available for motor-gliders and other light aircraft ?

Aug 24, 2019
a Pioneering start as Henry Ford back in the day with the road vehicle


More like the Stanley's Steamer - a good idea, but with fundamental limitations.

Entirely wrong, and in fact it will "limp" to the nearest landing zone or open field without crash long before the battery dies.


One would expect no less - but that still means there has to be spare capacity in the battery to do so, and the range of 22 miles (at top speed) is obviously the ultimate limit where the craft is still able to do a controlled descent.

It's a question about how do you define the "full range". If you have to hover for a minute to wait for the landing strip to clear, that's gonna cost you 2 kilometers in range, because the props are running all the time whether you're making progress or not.

You can't just draw a 44 mile wide circle around the airport and say "Here's where you can go". It doesn't work like that.

Aug 24, 2019
Besides, the point of a helicopter is lost if you can only serve fixed points where there's battery charging available.

If you give it a 25% safety margin for turning back, and assume 25% capacity loss over the lifespan of the battery, then your 22 miles turns to 12 miles, and if you want to make the return trip as well, 6 miles. Now, a city bus will take you 6 miles just fine, without the risk of dying in a helicopter crash.

And a city bus doesn't need for you to walk through security clearances, in case you're carrying a bomb in your briefcase in order to deliberately crash the helicopter on people.

Aug 24, 2019
I'm waitin' for anti-grav…:-)

Aug 24, 2019
That would probably be much quieter...

I wonder if you can auto-rotate in one of these?

Aug 24, 2019
The volocopter already flies. The electric flying machine fulfills the promise made by high density power in batteries, extreme reliability in electric motors, and high-powered computing ability.

Like the article says, the challenges are the implementation and safety of the air traffic control system required for flight authorization and assignment of individual traffic volumes for these autonomous passenger vehicles, the build-out of the network of battery swap stations (because that is how this drone recharges), the emergency measures required for live de-confliction in the event of rogue (or worse) operations, and the regulatory framework imposed at the local, state and national level (insurance, landing zones, noise regulation, keep-out zones, accepted routes, traffic limits...).

Unstated is the need for continued improvement of the software enabling autonomous flight. It's early days yet, and there will be mistakes and deaths attributable to bad software.

Aug 24, 2019
I love everything about this design, its redundancy, simplicity, non polluting factor, etc
-Except that it looks retarded.

Aug 24, 2019
Everythings opinions.

It reminds me of a dragonfly and its cellular translucent wings. With some good algorithms in its main computer it could probably be just as acrobatic.

Aug 25, 2019
I think a lightweight APU and some onboard fuel wouldn't hurt for emergency power. A BRS chute, which is a very simple system already used in aircraft, would work in this case (down the center mast). The biggest obstacle is people's perception of risk. Reporters get anxious about burning battery stories, then hop on their motorcycle/car full of highly explosive fuel.

Aug 25, 2019
The Super-Rich should litter U.S with Hoverboards near Residential driveways. Anyone willing to use them should insert their Credit Cards in them and the Address needed to fly to ! Either they pay for Waiting on reaching their destination or reorder using cellphone to collect them. Provisions should be made for Rain proof Coats etc.,

Aug 26, 2019
"Does it have a pop-up parachute, as available for motor-gliders and other light aircraft ?"

With the multiple redundancy of the rotors that's not really necessary. To put it bluntly: The type of accident that would render enough rotors non-functional so that this thing falls from the sky would kill any passengers (and destroy any rescue-chute) more likely than not.

Aug 26, 2019
****### @Eikka *****More like the Stanley's Steamer - a good idea, but with fundamental limitations.*******####

There is no fundamnetal limitations at all, it is flying extremely reliable and stable, it has been tested for Years in dubai.

*************---------------spare capacity in the battery to do so, and the range of 22 miles (at top speed) is obviously the ultimate limit where the craft is still able to do a controlled descent......**************

This is really non events, as it lands vertically it can land almost anywhere, and unlike a full scale helicopter if you botch the autoration you don't get a second chance, the software and hardware of a multirotor is extremely reliable and it compensates to magnitudes beyond human's perception, it would immediately compensate for a failed motor and control descents would basically be a non event. AGAIN battery tech will improve there is absolutely no doubt, so range will improve, no big deal, and not a concern now its early days.


Aug 26, 2019
*****____Besides, the point of a helicopter is lost if you can only serve fixed points where there's battery charging available.****

i fail to see the point, Same with helicopters, you can only fly to where there is fuel.
Charging stations will grow, this is the beginning, and even solar could be used something helicopters cannot use.

*******____If you give it a 25% safety margin for turning back, and assume 25% capacity loss over the lifespan of the battery, then your 22 miles....etc **********____

You keep talking about the figures, it was already mentioned, batteries are just the beginning, there are Enormous plans for powering electric air vehicles, batteries tech now is simply non relevant as it's early days.

********a city bus will take you 6 miles just fine, without the risk of dying in a helicopter crash.********

A city bus is slow, a city bus will stall you dead in traffic, it's a nightmare, look at major congestion worldwide, its an eye opener.

Aug 26, 2019
And a bus have more of chance of accident than an air vehicle that is this safe.

Aug 26, 2019
Everythings opinions.

It reminds me of a dragonfly and its cellular translucent wings. With some good algorithms in its main computer it could probably be just as acrobatic.

Already happening. Its called racing drones, they defy reality ;)

Aug 26, 2019
******Except that it looks retarded*******

Not the prettiest manned copter i agree, we are at the beginning era, looks will improve, volocity is a slight improvement already.

And Volo is one of the early creators of this revolution, whether theirs are the prettiest or not right now is not that major, it will improve in future.

Go look at airbus's concepts, and the Skai, as well as jetpacks aviation's electric copter concept, those are truly beautiful aircraft. And It's all coming...soon !

Aug 26, 2019
*****Unstated is the need for continued improvement of the software enabling autonomous flight. It's early days yet, and there will be mistakes and deaths attributable to bad software.****

Unstated because No it does not need improvement, the software right now as we speak is extremely reliable, of my 20 years in the industry i have yet to see the software causing a controlling malfunction, it is simply extremely reliable.


Sep 01, 2019
The Super-Rich should litter U.S with Hoverboards near Residential driveways. Anyone willing to use them should insert their Credit Cards in them and the Address needed to fly to ! Either they pay for Waiting on reaching their destination or reorder using cellphone to collect them. Provisions should be made for Rain proof Coats etc.,

If anyone causes damage or manipulates it unfavourably, the person's photo/video should show up in the main office.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more