Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Electric flying taxis get world's first airport — or 'vertiport' — in Singapore

German flying taxi company Volocopter opened a prototype vertiport for a test flight

Autonomous flying taxis have made a few public test flights over the years, including one in Dubai back in 2017. But so far no company has captured much attention for testing out the slightly less glitzy infrastructure for these soaring marvels.

That changed in Singapore on Tuesday when German flying taxi company Volocopter opened its the world's first vertiport for a test flight, bringing the future of urban commuting a little closer to reality.

The three-minute test marked the first time a flying taxi took off from a vertiport — a taxi-stand-airport combination for this new mode to travel.

“Standing inside the VoloPort makes urban air mobility feel extremely real and demonstrates that air taxi operations are not a faraway future, but very feasible to achieve within the next two to five years," Florian Reuter, chief executive of Volocopter, said.

Electric air taxis are an exciting prospect for urban dwellers living in increasingly dense areas, as the global population soars and city living gets more popular.

With expected benefits such as reducing traffic while speeding up travel times — all with the promise of being carbon emissions-free and hailed on demand like a Careem — the taxi of the future has been tested in cities like Dubai, Germany, Helsinki and Singapore.

Volocopter's new prototype was developed in collaboration with Skyports, the vertiport developer, owner and operator. The prototype will help to develop customer services like pre-flight checks, passenger lounges and boarding practices while also working out the mechanics of ground operations such as battery swaps and charging, maintenance and security, according to the companies.

VOLOCOPTER-AIR-TAXI
VOLOCOPTER-AIR-TAXI

The Voloport has a modular design that can be fitted for rooftops, railways stations, car parks and other metropolitan locations.

It has a central pad from which air taxis will lift off and land vertically.

The structure in Singapore was built for the Intelligent Transport System World Congress 2019, a transport technology conference which runs from October 21 to 25.

As part of expansion plans, Volocopter opened an office in Singapore in January and has started to build a local team. Skyports followed suit in September and will be hiring full-time local staff in early 2020.

Plans are underway to ensure air taxi services — and the needed infrastructure — are available in Singapore as early as 2021, the companies said.

Updated: October 23, 2019 09:47 AM

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