Autonomous air taxi developer Volocopter will conduct its next set of urban flight tests in Singapore, in the second half of 2019. The flights, which will culminate in public demonstrations, will follow on from unmanned flights of the two-seat Volocopter 2X in Dubai in September 2017.
The news comes on the heels of Kitty Hawk announcing a partnership with Air New Zealand on developing an autonomous air taxi service using its Cora two-seat electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Germany’s Lilium has also begun scouting for city-center locations to begin service with its five-seat eVTOL by 2025, or potentially earlier.
Volocopter is developing a multicopter eVTOL that can fly two people distances just short of 30 km (19 mi.). The flight tests in Singapore will be supported by the city-state’s Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and its Economic Development Board.
“Volocopter and CAAS will work together to establish the scope of the flight trials and ensure that the necessary requirements are met before flight tests are allowed to commence,” the Brunschal, Germany-based eVTOL developer said.
In addition to the flight tests, Volocopter will set up a product design and engineering team in Singapore to support its expansion plans. The company also looking for real-estate developers, mobility providers and businesses with which to work to enable air taxis in Singapore.
The island nation is already experimenting with urban drone deliveries under the Skyways project with Airbus Helicopters. This uses purpose-designed multicopter drones to shuttle packages between parcel stations on the National University of Singapore campus, with the demo service to be extended to ships anchored offshore in the Port of Singapore.
Singapore did not make the cut in August, when Uber announced it had narrowed its search for an international location in which to demonstrate its urban air taxi services. The ride-hailing giant has shortlisted 10 cities in Australia, Brazil, France, India and Japan to join Dallas and Los Angeles as its third location for experimental flights planned for 2020.