Advancements in battery technology are slowly starting to enable all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft and now Daimler is betting on a startup to bring them to market.
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Volocopter, a Germany-based startup, is working on a battery-powered autonomous aircraft to create quick short distance air taxi services.
The company confirmed that they received a 25 million euro ($30 million) investment last month led by Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, and a few other investors.
Florian Reuter, managing director of Volocopter, commented on the announcement:
“The strong financial commitment of our new investors is a signal as well as proof of the growing confidence in the newly emerging market for electrically driven VTOLs put to use as personal air taxis. We deliberately sought a mix of investors with strategic and entrepreneurial backgrounds and were able to implement this perfectly with Daimler und Lukasz Gadowski”.
The first implementation of their air taxi using the Volocopter will enter a trial program in Dubai by the end of the year:
The system is limited to a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and a range of roughly 27 km (16 miles), but it is aimed at quick point-to-point transport in cities to bypass traffic.
With 18 motors and 9 battery packs, the aircraft features a lot of redundancy to make the short trips safe.
What is more surprising, especially when it comes to recent electric aircraft or “flying car” announcements, is that Volocopter is more than a plan and renderings.
They actually have working prototypes:
The company plans to use the recent investment to further their technical program:
“Together with its partners, Volocopter will be using the new funding to further expand upon technical innovations and its pioneering role within the emerging industry. The plan is to further the development of the Volocopter up to production maturity and commercial licensing through aviation authorities worldwide. Amongst other things, extensive test flight programs are envisaged for this purpose. In order to speed up progress, the employment of additional engineers specialized in the development of flight systems, software and electric propulsion as well as the development of commercial function is envisaged.”
They will also use the money to market their aircraft and try to reach other deals like the project in Dubai.
Here are a few more pictures of the Volocopter:
Volocopter’s progress follows some other recent advancements by startups developing all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, also known as eVTOL.