While it’s certainly not the flying car you envisioned yourself in after watching The Jetsons, the Volocopter (seen above) is a fresh take on manned flights for transportation. In the words of the German company that created it, e-volo, a Volocopter is:
The Volocopter by e-volo is a completely novel, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft, which cannot be classified in any known category. The fact that it was conceived of as a purely electrically powered aircraft sets it apart from conventional aircraft.
Sounds about right. Wired Magazine spoke with its creators about what the future might hold if the Volocopter takes off (pun intended) like e-volo hopes it will:
The Volocopter has the potential to bring together many features we expect in a true flying car of the future: It’s simple to fly. It’s stable. Its 18 rotors provide a lot of redundancy against system failures. It doesn’t require a runway and it’s powered by batteries, making it emissions-free (especially if you charge them with renewable energy). OK, fine, strictly speaking it isn’t a flying car, because you can’t drive it on the ground, but who cares? It flies.
And sure, it’s no 2015 DeLorean, but on paper, it checks many of the same boxes that the flying vehicle we’ve long been promised would have. It flies, it takes off and lands vertically, and it looks awesome.
In demonstrations like the one above, and in field tests, the Volocopter has always been flown remotely and unmanned, but the development team at e-volo is working towards maximizing the craft’s potential in advance of upcoming human flight tests. Though the shape of the vehicle will remain largely the same, the team has doubled down on the amount of batteries and redundancy systems onboard to minimize the risk of error mid-flight. e-Volo CEO Alexander Zosel spoke with Wired about the plans for this new model and the company’s long-term projections for the Volocopter.
The initial two-seat design uses battery packs, with a flight-time duration of only about 20 to 30 minutes. It will be certified for sport flying, Zosel says, and he plans to sell the copters for about $340,000. He’s also working to develop a hybrid power system that would extend flight time to over one hour. But that’s just the beginning of Zosel’s vision. “The aim is to change the mobility for a lot of people, not only for fun,” he says. “For transportation, and for getting work done.”
By next summer, Zosel hopes to bring the aircraft to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the biggest air show in the world. “That’s my aim,” he says. “That’s my dream.”
Here’s to hoping that Zosel’s dream is realized, and that the gridlocked highways of our current commutes can soon become the gridlocked flyways of tomorrow!