The Volocopter Drone for Humans? Yes and it was announced this week at CES 2018\
Volocopter and Workhorse showed off their incredible ‘super drones’ at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, each touting the ability to fly piloted or autonomously and slash commuting times in busy urban areas.
The two were among the most highly-anticipated exhibitors at CES this year, as the firms have both revealed their visions for Uber-style flying taxi services with the vertical takeoff and landing craft in the foreseeable future.
Volocopter stunned attendees during Intel’s keynote by flying the drone right onto the stage, in what a spokesperson admitted was a ‘ballsy’ move – but, while Workhorse was slated to demonstrate its SureFly craft this week, the flight had to be cancelled due to the rain.
Workhorse and Volocopter displayed their ‘air taxis’ in side-by-side exhibits at CES.
In many ways, the two craft appear similar.
But, an up-close look reveals key differences that truly set them apart.
In a presentation about Volocopter’s craft, an exhibitor said it is the ‘world’s first autonomous air taxi.’
The craft completed the first unmanned test flight in Dubai this past fall.
‘Potentially in years to come, you would be able to take your phone out and pull up a transportation application, and similar to what you do with a taxi today, summon this to your location, hop in, tell it where you’re going.
‘And it would autonomously fly you to that location, no pilot required. It’s a safe, reliable form of transportation.’
The Volocopter craft ‘is essentially a scaled-up super drone,’ he noted.
It is fully electric, allowing for zero emission travel.
And, it’s quiet enough to be operated in an urban environment.
Volocopter relies on a system of ‘redundancies’ to ensure its safety, meaning there are many propellers, batteries, and motors to compensate in case one goes out.
With Intel’s flight control technology and a ‘myriad of sensors,’ the craft is ‘constantly analyzing environmental data to ensure those redundancies,’ a Volocopter exhibitor explained.
There are 18 independent motors and propellers, but ‘if that seems like way too many, what it allows for is, you can lose a propeller or several of them and still maintain your flight.’
There are nine batteries, ensuring the same type of back-up.
According to the firm, rides in the flying taxis would likely be comparable to a trip in an Uber Black.
Volocopter is expected to make its first piloted routes within the next 3-5 years, the firm says.