Urban mobility company Volocopter recently sent its extraordinary 18-rotor electric aircraft skyward in what it claimed to be the first-ever public-crewed test flight of a fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi in the U.S. You can watch it take to the air in the video below.
The Volocopter 2X entertained crowds at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2021 event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, earlier this week.
The unique-looking aircraft flew over Wittman Regional Airport for about four minutes, reaching an altitude of 164 feet (50 meters) and a top speed of 18 mph (29 kph).
While the recent U.S. flight used a pilot, the Volocopter 2X can also be flown autonomously or even remotely by a pilot on the ground. The current design is much quieter than a regular helicopter and can fly for up to 18 miles (30 km) on a single charge.
The German company behind the Volocopter 2X said that flights like this are helping it to raise awareness of air taxis among people around the world as it works steadily toward launching commercial services in urban areas globally.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said this week his company is working to bring electric flights to cities around the globe “in the next two to three years.”
The company, which launched in 2011, has several eVTOL aircraft in development besides the Volocopter 2X. They include the similarly designed two-seat VoloCity, the recently unveiled four-seat VoloConnect for longer journeys of up to 62 miles (100 km), and the pilotless VoloDrone designed for carrying payloads.
And Volocopter certainly isn’t the only one working on developing eVTOL aircraft for urban mobility, as this collection of other similar projects shows.
These efforts have attracted financial backing from some major companies, too, among them Airbus, Toyota, and Hyundai, with the companies clearly believing that such “flying taxi” services have a viable future.
Of course, it is regulators who will have the final say about the launch of such services in cities and towns across the U.S. and beyond, with the safety of those in the aircraft, as well as those on the ground, the top priority.