Volocopter hopes to have air taxis in the sky in five years

In addition to autonomous vehicles crawling the cities without drivers, we should start getting ready for the sky to be taken over by robot chauffeurs. One of the companies working on future air taxis is Germany-based Volocopter. Its 18-rotored human-sized drone took flight at Intel’s CES keynote and was on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center. So naturally, we asked to sit in it.

Volocopter began its journey to autonomous air taxis in 2013 and has made some impressive progress in the past four years. It’s been flown not only on stage at CES, it’s taken flight in Germany and completed an autonomous flight in Dubai. It used GPS waypoints during that pilotless excursion.

The drone’s 18 rotors are powered by 9 batteries which power two rotors each. The tiny propellers that share a battery are situated on opposite ends of the aircraft. That way if a battery fails, it won’t seriously affect the stability of the Volocopter.

That powerpack will keep the aircraft in the sky for 30 minutes. Long enough for urban air-transportation according to the aircraft maker. When it lands, instead of plugging the Volocopter in, the rear cone can be removed and the battery packs swapped in about three to five minutes. It’s currently a manual operation, but the company envisions robots taking care of this in the future.

But even with its successful test flights and Intel’s avoidance system on board, it’ll be a while before any of us are taking sky taxis to our destinations. Flight trials with pilots will commence in about two years with autonomous trials about a year after that. During that, the company will also have to navigate the FAA and other regulatory institutions. But it’s hopeful that by the time the technology is ready (in about five years) the government will be as well. Then you might have the option of taking either a self-driving car or autonomous sky taxi to your destination.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

Author: Daily Tech Whip

This article is part of our 'News Tiles' service. The site is currently in Beta. When it is fully operational you will be able to search through and arrange the 'Tiles' to display a keyword, product or technology over your chosen time period. For example you would be able to display all of the leading tech articles on the new Kindle Fire, in one spot in real time. You will also have access to our own original reporting and analysis as well as a polished place to post your own thoughts & reviews here, amongst the Daily Tech Whip Community. Please let us know if you have any feedback via the contact form or via Twitter. Don't forget to come back next week and see our full site and claim your name and your own free tech blog.

Share This Post On