How about arriving by air taxi to your hotel in the center of Rome? By 2024 it will be possible, German startup Volocopter has announced. If everything goes as planned, the company hopes to make Fiumicino Airport a pioneer site for the rotor-bladed, battery-powered two-seater air taxi it is developing.
The new vehicle is scheduled to take-off within the next three years, which is the time it will take to finalize the related flight regulations and develop the vertiports that will enable the air taxis to take off and land vertically. Enac, Enav, and Aeroporti di Roma are working hard on these two fronts to ensure that Rome is one of the world’s first major capitals where this new form of urban air mobility can be launched.
Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) CEO Marco Troncone said the journey in one of the craft, which takes off and lands vertically, would take around 15 minutes, compared with the much longer trip made by car. The initial cost of a ride will be around 150 euros ($175), a price that is likely to drop as the service goes mainstream. “The connection will be very swift,” he told Reuters.
It will be a silent journey. The level of emissions will be zeroMarco Troncone, Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) CEO
Here are the key features of VoloCity, which initially will be able to carry two people (one of whom will be the pilot until the aircraft will fly completely autonomous):
- The air taxi can travel at a maximum speed of 110 km per hour and has a range of 35 km.
- Once a flight has been completed, the lithium-ion batteries – installed in 9 units on board the aircraft – can be replaced within 5 minutes, allowing for a quick turnaround. This also increases the battery lifetime significantly, lowering the price of the flights and ensuring 100% healthy batteries with each flight.
- The VoloCity has a maximum take-off weight of 900 kg, of which 700 kg is the empty weight of the vehicle and the remaining 200 kg is the payload (including passengers and luggage).
- The air taxi is extremely safe, as it is fitted with 18 independent rotors powered by the same number of motors. Each rotor has a diameter of 2.3 m, and the overall diameter of the vehicle is 11.3 m.
- The fully electric motors – BLDC (Brushless DC electric motor) type – enable an emission-free flight and a sustainable addition to existing transport modes.