Only recently have I returned from my visit in Karlsruhe. Initially, I went there to take part in in city’s 300th Birthday celebration; yet, I ended up seeing something beyond my expectations. The “Volocopter”. The futuristic-looking machine immediately attracted my attention. By now I can call myself a fan of this project. In essence it is the world’s first flying personal electric vehicle (EV).
What is it exactly?
Kind of like a helicopter (mostly because it takes off and lands vertically), the Volocopter is an innovative transportation form entirely in a league of its own. It has a 100% electric engine, 18 rotors and a little cabin for the pilot, as well as a passenger’s seat in its latest model. The controls: nothing more than a joystick and easy-to-use pilot software. Though not set in stone, reportedly all you need is a private pilot’s license to fly it in Germany.
Transportation of the future
The Volocopter, invented by the clever team at e-Volo, has great promise as a future mode of transportation, though there are few kinks to iron out. Because it runs purely electric, battery life is the biggest issue. The current battery allows flight time of about 20 minutes, but the team is working to extend this to around 1 hour or more. A hybrid version with a range extender is also in development.
Obviously the Volocopter primarily targets travel over short distances. A trip to the store, a jaunt out to the country, a meeting across town – sounds great, especially during rush hour!
As with other modes of transportation, safety is a key topic. The ‘redundancy of its components’, as the company phrases it, plays an integral role in its safety concept. This allows it to land safely even if some drives fail. It’s also fitted with a parachute for emergencies, unlike helicopters whose rotors are in the way.
Since my sighting, I’ve become enthusiastic about the Volocopters’ prospect as an optional transportation in the future. With a initial price tag of 350.000 €, it’s out of reach for many people, but companies, for instance, could add them to their fleets in the future. Or maybe we’ll see Volocopter sharing stations cropping up around town?
Promising or not: what do you think of the new Volocopter? Can you imaging travelling in one?