German urban air mobility start-up Volocopter is currently eyeing Singapore, Dubai, and Germany as the most likely destinations for the commercial launch of its electric helicopters – offering those so inclined an opportunity to swap their yellow taxi cabs for an electric helicopter, and at the price of a limousine ride.
Volocopter’s co-founder, Alexander Zosel, told Reuters that the company is working with Singapore regulators to conduct a public test flight in coming months, but that Germany and Dubai were also potential markets willing to consider its air taxis.
In Singapore, the company is looking at the role that air taxis could play in the city-state’s business district of Marina Bay and its popular resort island of Sentosa.
“For the commercial routes, we have two customers profiles: one is a business customer, so perhaps from the airport to the business centre, or for tourists flying from Marina Bay to Sentosa,” Alexander Zosel told Reuters.
Already backed by heavy hitters such as Daimler, Intel, and Geely, Volocopter is targeting a planned commercial rollout of its electric air taxis in the next two to three years.
The drone-like taxis are powered by 18 rotors and the company says it has clocked over 1,000 test flights – some piloted by humans and others flown by remote control or autonomously on a pre-determined route.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the company is still looking for more financial backers. The company has an open funding round that it plans to close in January 2020, and it has already raised €85 million (AU$138 million) to date.
The latest funding it accrued was in a €50 million (AU$81 million) tranche led by Chinese car marker Geely earlier this year.
As a result, Daimler, Intel, and Geek each now own around 10% of the company.
The company also announced late last monththat one of its Volocopters was used in a staged rescue operation which covered everything from the alert at the ADAC Luftrettung HEMS base to the emergency treatment of the patient on the scene.
The staged operation was conducted for a feasibility study launched by ADAC Luftrettung which could result in the implementation of a pilot project to further test whether these “multicopters” – electric helicopters with multiple rotos – provide “a tactical advantage in emergency rescue missions.”