Future Tech: New Electric Helicopter Would Make Commuting A Breeze

Photo: Pacific Press / Contributor Getty Images

Uber and taxi services will soon face a new generation of competition as an affordable helicopter solution becomes readily available in big cities. It’s called Volocopter, and it’s an electric air taxi that hopes to provide a new way for impatient people to quickly get from point A to point B, even when traffic is at its worst.

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Weighing at 639 pounds, the two-seater takes off and lands vertically similar to helicopters. Made of carbon fiber composites, its more than a dozen propellers produce so little noise that it’s nearly silent when flying at its operating altitude of 330 feet. It’s also considered incredibly safe, using a triple redundant flight control unit that means the only way it’s coming down from the sky is with a rocket launcher.

The Volocopter is also capable of being flown by a pilot in the cockpit or using remote controls from the ground, meaning that technically it can seat two passengers. A new software update is currently in development that could completely automate its flight patterns, potentially putting helicopter pilots out of business.

The Volocopter began production in 2013, yet it hasn’t been until now that it’s been approved for live testing. Next year, it will see test flights in Singapore, where if it manages to not produce a catastrophic incident, it will likely be adopted in other large population cities.

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Its test flights in Singapore will be along common routes that helicopter hailing services currently travel through. However, it will be much more affordable to use thanks to its $338,000 cost, which greatly contrasts with helicopters that typically run for between $500,000 and $4 million.