A German startup is making serious moves to make futuristic, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircrafts a reality in a commercial setting.
VTOLs are exactly what they sound like — aircrafts that can take off vertically without needing a runway. The German startup, e-volo, has been working on its VTOL since 2011. But several other contenders have entered the space as of late, like Uber, Airbus, and Zee.Aero, a startup funded by Google co-founder Larry Page.
E-Volo has finalised its multicopter, called the Volocopter 2X, and will begin trialing the aircraft for a flying taxi service in 2018. Here’s what you need to know:
The electric aircraft can fit two and comes with 18 rotors, allowing it to fly through the air extremely quietly. It can both take off and land vertically using a simple joystick.
But it's not a long-range vehicle. The VTOL is powered by nine batteries that allow it to fly for 17 minutes at a cruising speed of 69km/h.
The VTOL has been approved as an ultralight aircraft in Germany. That means anyone with a Sports Pilot Licence in Germany will be able to fly it as early as 2018. E-volo is also using the aircrafts for a flying taxi pilot program next year.
The aircraft comes with sensors that could allow it to fly autonomously in the future, but a pilot will control the VTOL next year.
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