AUTONOMOUS HELICOPTER TAXIS COULD BE TAKING OFF 2018


helicopter taxi


AUTONOMOUS HELICOPTER TAXIS COULD BE TAKING OFF
DECEMBER 2017 34
Volocopter’s plans to build a fleet of autonomous helicopters for use as taxis have been covered in this magazine before. But the German company’s ambitions were recently given something of a lift in the form of $30m of investment from manufacturer Daimler. The lower half of Volocopter’s heli-taxi looks like a standard helicopter,
with two landing skids, a long, narrow tail and a cockpit that can house two people. Where a standard helicopter would have rotors on the roof and tail, however, the Volocopter has, instead, a large, circular frame on which are mounted no fewer than 18 individual rotors. This innovative design is said to make the machine much more stable in the air than traditional helicopters. The Volocopter made its first manned flight in 2016, but, with help from
Daimler’s investment, the company now plans to develop an autonomous version. Trials have started in Dubai this year, with a view to a fleet of the vehicles being used for personal transport in and around the city within a few years. And, if that all sounds like a far-fetched proposition, just bear in mind that
many people said the same thing when engineer Gottlieb Daimler built the first motorcycle in 1885…

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