German automobile firm Daimler and other investors have has invested more than $29 million dollars (25 million euro) in aviation start-up Volocopter.
Volocopter plans to use the money to invest in further developing its electrically powered, autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft and ‘conquer’ the market for flying air taxis.
Volocopter’s ‘Volocopter 2X’ is a fully electric VTOL with 18 quiet rotors and a maximum airspeed of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour – and it can transport two passengers without a pilot.
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Volocopter announced that in the fourth quarter of 2017, it will work with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to conduct tests of its vehicle as an autonomous air taxi. The trial operations and certification program is expected to continue for five years
The funding is being provided by Daimler, as well as technology investor Lukasz Gadowski from Berlin and other investors.
In addition to the funding news, Volocopter announced that in the fourth quarter of 2017, it will work with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to conduct tests of its vehicle as an autonomous air taxi.
The trial operations and certification program is expected to continue for five years.
According to Volocopter, the aircraft has an average flight time of 27 minutes and has 9 independent lithium-ion battery pack systems.
The aircraft’s batteries have a maximum charging time of under 120 minutes, with a fast charging time of less than 40 minutes.
The aircraft has a communication network for safety and a an emergency parachute on board.
The company says that the aircraft is ‘especially quiet’ because all of its 18 rotors acoustically operate within a narrow frequency band.
According to the company, a Volocopter 2X within within 75 meters (246 feet) is as quiet as the smallest helicopter within 500 meters (1,640 feet) distance.
‘The strong financial commitment of our new investors is a signal as well as proof of the growing confidence in the newly emerging market for electrically driven VTOLs put to use as personal air taxis’ says Florian Reuter, the managing director of Volocopter.
‘We deliberately sought a mix of investors with strategic and entrepreneurial backgrounds and were able to implement this perfectly with Daimler and Lukasz Gadowski.’
According to Volocopter, the company’s plan is to further the development of the aircraft up to production maturity and commercial licensing through aviation authorities worldwide.
This will involved test flight programs, and the employment of more engineers specialized in the development of flight systems.
While Daimler’s position as an automobile company is valuable for Volocopter, Volocopter claims that investor Lukasz Gadowski can support Volocopter in other ways.
He’s had experience in the global scaling of tech start-ups, which Volocopter says will be of value to it in asserting itself on the global market.
‘I have been interested in flying cars and following their development for a while.
‘When I saw the Volocopter I got it: The ‘flying car’ has no wheels!
‘What is exciting at Volocopter is not just the magnificent vision but also that which has already been tangibly implemented.
‘Huge ambition with both feet on the ground – a unique combination! In the coming years we can expect a revolution in manned aviation.
‘We at Volocopter will significantly contribute to shaping it!’
Volocopter also plans to invest some of the funding in developing brand awareness.
For example, the company has already launched a new website, and a communications team will be installed to promote planned events and demonstrations of the aircraft.