The reality of hopping into flying taxis is not that farfetched. The idea of producing flying taxis has moved a step closer to becoming a reality in the not-so-distant future. A working prototype of the new Volocopter was demonstrated at the Paris airshow last week.
The Challenges of Developing eVTOLs
Companies aiming to produce flying taxis, known as eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing), have had a difficult two years due to financial constraints brought on by the pandemic. A lack of funding from investors has translated into delays in development and certifications from aviation safety regulators.
The Potential for Flying Taxi Services
Klaus Roewe of German start-up Lilium, claims that the vertical take-off craft could be the basis for an on-demand air service within six years. Getting from the design and testing phase to the manufacturing phase is a major challenge for companies in the industry.
Like a drone crossed with a helicopter, the Volocopter has an electric motor and a wasp-shaped body, that is placed on a circular frame that supports 18 sets of blades. The mysterious two-seater aircraft featured among the fighter jets and military helicopters on display at last week’s Paris airshow.
Created by a German startup, Volocopter was the only vehicle of its kind at the show, while other companies displayed mock-ups. The company claims it will have the Volocopter in service within a year.
Producers of eVTOLs state that their products will be affordable and simple enough to compete with road taxi services. Klaus Roewe, chief executive at German startup Lilium, is convinced that eVTOLS will eventually be cheaper than taxis on some routes, with prices of between $2 or $3 per kilometer.
Eve Air Mobility’s chief executive Andre Stein aims for similar fares of about USD 3 per kilometer, according to The Guardian.
Benefits of eVTOLs
eVTOLS offer improved environmental sustainability. Compared with helicopters, the vehicle uses less energy and has lower maintenance costs. There may also require less stringent qualifications to operate these craft.