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Meet the VoloCity

No more prototypes, ready for take off! German startup Volocopter presented this summer its first air taxi destined for production. Here is how the solution has been tailored-made for inner-city hops

2 min read
© Volocopter
© Volocopter

Presented in last August, the VoloCity is the latest solution proposed by Volocopter, the first designed for actual commercial use. All of its features (number of seats, range, speed...) are related to its mission: to be an inner-city flying taxi and nothing else. The choice of simplicity, for instance (such as direct-drive motors and fixed pitch rotors) makes the solution less costly to manufacture, more reliable (less expensive maintenance and easier to certify), lighter, so more economical and less noisy. Everything is closely linked.


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1. Drive

The wide span and a large number of battery-powered engines and rotors (18 of each) reduce the noise level and generate a frequency that is softer and more pleasant on the ear. It also improves safety: the VoloCity is capable of flying even if several engines are inoperative. The aircraft will fly at “only" 110kmph, which is safer (better collision avoidance) and less noisy than rapid eVTOLs.

2. Cabin

The passenger and the pilot have access and are seated comfortably (Volocopter's analyses show that the large majority of intra-urban passengers travel alone). There is space for hand luggages, air conditioning, silence and a stunning view. Once the regulations will authorise it, the VoloCity will also be able to fly autonomously.

3. Batteries

The VoloCity embarks 9 Lithium-ion exchangeable battery packs. These are recharged on the vertiports. Whenever the aircraft lands in between two flights, batteries can be changed in five minutes to fresh batteries and can take off. Its 35km range makes it possible to connect the most popular destinations (city centres, airports, business centres ...).

4. Skids

Vertical take-off and landing, so no need for wheels nor retractable landing gear. The skids are part of the rationalisation process to reduce weight, breakdowns, production and maintenance costs. Ground operations are ensured by conveyor belts or platforms.

The Conversation (0)

Self-Driving Cars Work Better With Smart Roads

Intelligent infrastructure makes autonomous driving safer and less expensive

9 min read
A photograph shows a single car headed toward the viewer on the rightmost lane of a three-lane road that is bounded by grassy parkways, one side of which is planted with trees. In the foreground a black vertical pole is topped by a crossbeam bearing various instruments. 

This test unit, in a suburb of Shanghai, detects and tracks traffic merging from a side road onto a major road, using a camera, a lidar, a radar, a communication unit, and a computer.

Shaoshan Liu

Enormous efforts have been made in the past two decades to create a car that can use sensors and artificial intelligence to model its environment and plot a safe driving path. Yet even today the technology works well only in areas like campuses, which have limited roads to map and minimal traffic to master. It still can’t manage busy, unfamiliar, or unpredictable roads. For now, at least, there is only so much sensory power and intelligence that can go into a car.

To solve this problem, we must turn it around: We must put more of the smarts into the infrastructure—we must make the road smart.

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