Category Archives: Science and Technology

Sci-Tech: Volocopter to demo electric vertical take-off and landing air taxis in Singapore in 2019

I’ve posted here many times over the years about vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles, particularly those derived from electric multi-rotor drone style technologies. There are dozens of companies developing such vehicles for personal and commercial transport services. Volocopter is one such company in Germany whose VTOL vehicle designs clearly follow the drone approach and is nearing commercial takeoff. They just announced an agreement with the government o fSingapore to begin demonstration tests in 2019 of air taxi services:

Volocopter to Test its Electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) Air Taxis in Singapore

Bruchsal/Paris/Singapore, October 2018 – Volocopter, the pioneer in urban air mobility, announced today during Autonomy – the Summit of Urban Mobility in Paris, that they will perform a next set of inner urban flight tests in Singapore. The series of test that are scheduled to take place in the second half of 2019 are supported by the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), and Economic Development Board (EDB).

These flight tests are designed to validate and verify the ability of Volocopter’s eVTOL vehicles to operate in Singapore’s urban environment and will culminate in public demo flights. Volocopter and CAAS will work together to establish the scope of the flight trials and ensure that the necessary requirements are met before flight tests are allowed to commence. In addition to the flight tests, Volocopter will be setting up a product design and engineering team in Singapore to support its expansion plans. They are also looking for real-estate developers, mobility providers and businesses ready to join their quest to enable air taxis in Singapore.

Volocopters are emission-free, electrically powered aircraft that take off and land vertically. They resemble a helicopter in looks, but are based on drone technology and can fly two people for just short of 30 km. The Volocopter is designed specifically for inner city missions. It features an extremely stable flight allowing it to maneuver micro turbulences around skyscrapers, thus offering a smooth ride for passengers. It is so quiet that at a flight height of 100 m, it cannot be heard over the typical background noise of a city.

“There is potential for air taxis, or eVTOLs, to transform mobility and logistics in urban cities. Volocopter is at the forefront of such new and innovative technology in the aviation industry. CAAS is pleased to work together with Volocopter to study the technical capabilities and develop appropriate operational guidelines to facilitate such trials in Singapore,”

said Mr. Ho Yuen Sang, Director (Aviation Industry), CAAS.

Mr. Tan Kong Hwee, Executive Director EDB Singapore said, “Volocopter’s decision to set up a local product design and engineering team in Singapore is a testament to Singapore’s aerospace engineering talent, as well as our prime position for industry players. We are excited to welcome Volocopter to Singapore and look forward to our future partnerships.”

“We are getting ready to start implementing the first fixed routes in cities,” says Florian Reuter CEO of Volocopter. “Singapore is a logical partner: The city is a true pioneer in technology and city development. We are confident this is another exciting step to make air taxi services a reality.”

Volocopter holds a preliminary permit to fly from the German authorities since 2016 and is cooperating with the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) to receive a full commercial license. They fly regularly in Germany and have performed numerous public flights.

First manned flight with Alexander Zosel in March 2016.

In September 2017 Volocopter performed a public unmanned test flight in Dubai, where they partnered with the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai in their endeavor to implement air taxis into the public transportation mix.

You can find high-res images here >>

About Volocopter: Volocopter is the global leader in the development of electrical vertical take-off and landing multicopters (eVTOL) as autonomous air taxis to fly people safely to their destination. The technical platform is extremely flexible and permits piloted, remote controlled, and fully autonomous flight. In addition, the unique design offers unprecedented degrees of safety based on the high level of redundancy in all critical components. As early as 2011 the company earned its entry into the history of aviation through the manned flight of the world’s first purely electrical multicopter. Since then the young enterprise has set new milestones: In 2016 Volocopter was granted provisional licensing for a two-seater Volocopter by the German aviation authorities and in 2017 the aviation start-up showcased the first ever autonomous flight of an air taxi in cooperation with RTA Dubai. In the meantime, the founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel have gathered a team of experienced managers like CEO Florian Reuter, CTO Jan-Hendrik and CFO Rene Griemens. This paved the way for the further expansion of the company. Daimler and Intel are among the investors in the company.

Website: volocopter.com      |       YouTube: youtube.com/volocopter

Videos: Leading edge space technologies presented at the 2018 NIAC Symposium

Check out the latest leading edge technology ideas presented this week by winners of NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program grants at the 2018 NIAC Symposium underway in Boston till Thursday. The agenda (pdf) lists the talks and you can watch the presentations at the NIAC 2018 Livestream.

Below are videos of three of the sessions on Tuesday. The presenters included, for example, Ryan Weed of Positron Dynamics on antimatter catalyzed fusion propulsion, Stephanie Thomas of Princeton Satellite Systems on a plasma magnetic fusion propulsion design, and James Woodward of the Space Studies Institute on a Mach Effect drive.

This video from Princeton Satellite Systems describes their fusion propulsion design:

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Sci-Tech: Videos of Fly Astro Elroy and Metro Skyways CityHawk VTOL vehicles

*** Fly Astro is developing Elroy (previously called “Passenger Drone”), another electrically powered Vertical-Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle making flight look easy:

More at Transport Canada grants Astro Aerospace SFOC for flight testing of their passenger drone, “Elroy”. OTC Markets:ASDN.

*** Latest video for CityHawk from Metro Skyways and Urban Aero:

More at CityHawk eVTOL flying car entering “full-scale development” – New Atlas.

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Sci-Tech videos: Origami Underwater Robots + Tokamak Energy + A Tesla factory tour

The latest episode of TMRO:Science, a “Weekly Science and Innovation Show”, is about “Origami Underwater Robots”: 

Lisa and Jade chat to Brennan Phillips (University of Rhode Island) and Zhi Ern Teoh (Harvard University) about an underwater self-folding polyhedral robot capable of gently capturing ocean creature and releasing them unharmed.

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A TEDx talk by Melanie Windridge of Tokamak Energy on the possibility of fusion power plants going on line by 2030:

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Elon Musk gives Marques Brownlee a tour of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California and explains what tasks robots do best and where human workers do best:

See also Brownlee’s interview with Musk.

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