SINGAPORE — The world’s first air taxi service is targeted to be launched in Singapore as early as 2021, with the goal of eventually making it a fully autonomous and affordable means of transport for the masses.
Called the Volocopter, the air taxi could result in intra-city journeys that would cost “hundreds of dollars, not thousands of dollars”, said managing director Duncan Walker of Skyports, the developer of “vertiports”, which are the landing and takeoff facilities for the Volocopter, on Monday (21 October).
“The end game is that this becomes a price point equivalent to a taxi or a limousine,” added Walker. He was speaking at a media conference at The Float at Marina Bay, the location of the vertiport called the VoloPort.
The team behind the Volocopter aims to start its commercial operations “within two to four years”, Walker added.
Alongside his partner Florian Reuter, the chief executive of air taxi developer Volocopter, the duo touted the two-seater craft as the world’s first full-scale air taxi prototype. The fully electric, 18-propeller vehicle will take off on its first proof of concept flight in Singapore at The Float on Tuesday, following close cooperation with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS).
The Volocopter is currently on display as part of the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress, which is taking place at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. While it currently seats one pilot and one passenger, it will eventually be fully autonomous.
“I believe our future can potentially look like ‘The Fifth Element’,” said Reuter, alluding to the 1997 science fiction film which included depictions of air taxis flying through congested air traffic. He noted that the Volocopter is “extremely quiet” as compared with conventional aircraft.
While conceding that the goal of making air taxis a means of mass transport is some time away, Walker pointed to several initial steps that would bring the goal closer. “One possible early use is for tourist travel, whether it’s somewhere like here to Sentosa island, pleasure viewing sites, maybe ship to shore resupply.”
Among the factors that have to be taken into consideration include traffic congestion, the safest routes and whether the air taxis could fly over waterways and railways. “It’s not going to be a thousand vehicles on day one,” added Walker.
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