Self-Driving Cars

Hyperdrive Daily: Air Taxis Reach for the Skies • SPACMARK

Welcome to the Hyperdrive daily briefing, decoding the revolution reshaping the auto world, from EVs to self-driving cars and beyond.

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After decades playing supporting roles in sci-fi fantasies from “The Jetsons” to “Blade Runner,” air taxis are getting closer to takeoff.

Companies around the globe are testing dozens of models and working with regulators on certification. Most startups are developing battery-powered aircraft that look like a hybrid between a helicopter and a drone, so calling them flying cars is a bit of a stretch. That said, automakers including Hyundai and General Motors have invested a fair amount of money in the sector, even as it’s unclear which firms will come out ahead in what will be an expensive race for the skies.

Germany’s Volocopter is among those that are pretty far along. The startup backed by China’s Geely and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler is aiming to start commercial operations in Singapore in 2023 and working with Paris authorities to whizz people over the city during the 2024 Summer Olympics. This week, the company unveiled its second air taxi, a longer-range shuttle complementing a two-seater model that’s already completed more than 1,000 test flights.

Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter told me that 15-minute flights from New York’s JFK Airport to Manhattan will in the medium term cost less than $100. That’s roughly in line with an Uber ride, but a much faster trip. The company has raised almost $400 million and hopes that automated flying backed up by a remote pilot, a first step to lowering trip costs, can be approved in the coming years.

Air-Taxi Startup Volocopter Boosts Funds in Race to Get Flying

A Volocopter air taxi flies over Marina Bay during a test flight in Singapore.

Photographer: Roslan Rahman/Getty Images

There are a few caveats, of course. Aviation authorities are known for being extremely careful, meaning getting the green light to fly over cities will take a lot of time and money. Just this month, Morgan Stanley lowered its forecast for the 2040 global urban air mobility market by $500 billion to $1 trillion, saying in a report that the industry has to climb a “regulatory Mount Everest.”

Many companies “may never see an aircraft reach commercial service,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.

Germany’s Volocopter is among those that are pretty far along. The startup backed by China’s Geely and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler is aiming to start commercial operations in Singapore in 2023 and working with Paris authorities to whizz people over the city during the 2024 Summer Olympics. This week, the company unveiled its second air taxi, a longer-range shuttle complementing a two-seater model that’s already completed more than 1,000 test flights.

Source: https://spacmark.com/2021/05/20/hyperdrive-daily-air-taxis-reach-for-the-skies/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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