Volocopter air taxi to take to Singapore skies this week as city embraces innovation

Volocopter says Singapore is one of the potential to be among the first routes as the company launches first commercial routes in the next two to five years.

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The skyline of the central business district in Singapore Reuters

Volocopter has said its air taxis will finally hit Singapore skies as early as 2021. The German company said it has been in talks with Singapore's Economic Development Board as well as Transport and Civil Aviation ministries over the feasibility of air taxis in the city. Volocopter produces the world's first manned, fully electric and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Apart from Germany and Singapore, the company is planning to launch the taxis in Dubai as well.

"We hope to have our first commercial routes open in the next two to five years. Singapore is one of the potential contenders to be among the first routes, but from Volocopter's side, we cannot say yet when the first route will actually be open," Volocopter's spokesperson Helena Treeck told Today.

Meanwhile, a non-commercial version of the taxi, named the Volocopter 2X, will take to Singapore skikes on October 22. The three-minute flight will take place over the Marina Bay at noon. Volocopter will also display its take-off and landing site at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. But the company spokesperson said Volocopter 2X will not take of from the VoloPort on Tuesday.

The German company has ambitious plans for the future. It told CNN earlier that volocopter plans to fly around 100,000 passengers per hour across the world in the next 10 years. "Of course there are some challenges remaining but the most fascinating aspect of it: It's not just for the rich and wealthy because once it goes autonomous, it will cost only as much as a taxi costs nowadays," an official told CNN.

Culture of innovation

Volocopter sees some of the world's most congested cities like Los Angeles, Jakarta and Bangkok as its natural clients but Singapore makes the grade owing to its great culture of innovation. Volcopoter is based on the drone technology, and robots swap the batteries before each ride.

Volocopter had conducted an unmanned trial in Dubai in 2017. "In the end, we want to have Volocopter systems here in Singapore as a public transport system for business travellers or tourists. The plan is to open the first route in the next two to three years, but this will be defined with the authorities, and that could be a tourist case or a business case for example from the airport to the business district," Volocopter co-founder Alexander Zosel told the Channel News Asia earlier this month.