France will test “flying taxis” from next year: operators


Last year, Volocopter tested its airborne taxi in the heart of Singapore

“Flying taxis” will begin to take off from an aerodrome north of Paris next June, said operators, during a test in anticipation of a large influx of tourists for the 2024 Olympics.

The experiment will take place at the aerodrome of Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin about 90 minutes north-west of the capital by car, according to a joint announcement from the Ile-de-France region, from the operator of Groupe ADP airports and the RATP public transport agency.

A fully electric, drone-type vertical take-off and landing vehicle (VTOL) dubbed VoloCity, produced by German company Volocopter, was chosen for the innovative test with flying taxis in a peri-urban area, they said. .

The partners declared in a press release that they “decided to meet all the conditions to make possible the emergence of this new mode of transport in addition to existing modes, whether for the public or for goods.

“In addition, the prospect of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is an exceptional opportunity to involve an entire industry to make the Paris region a leader in the global urban air mobility market. ”

The experience will depend on resident approval, safety protocols and air traffic regulations, the companies said.

In the first half of 2021, arrangements will be made for parking lots, charging stations and ground markings for the demonstration.

In collaboration with the aviation safety agencies, the partners specify that “the parking, take-off and landing operations as well as the operations around the vehicle, whether it be maintenance or electric recharging, will be tested in a actual aeronautical environment in June 2021 ”.

VoloCity is equipped with 18 rotors and nine batteries. Each can carry two passengers with one piece of hand luggage, for a maximum payload of 200 kilograms (440 pounds).

Unmanned Volocopter air taxi can carry two passengers with hand luggage

Deployment in 2030

It flies at 110 kilometers (68 miles) per hour, at an altitude of 400-500 meters (1,312-1,640 feet), with a range of 35 kilometers (22 miles).

Volocopter director Fabien Nestmann said the craft’s manufacturers expected full certification from the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency within two to three years.

“We want a demo for the 2024 Olympic Games,” added Valérie Pécresse, president of the Ile-de-France region, during the launch press conference.

But it could take a decade for the project to roll out on a large scale.

“The day when you can buy a ticket (for a flying taxi) on the Internet and take one, it is rather around 2030,” RATP CEO Catherine Guillouard told reporters.

Ultimately, “we will be able to integrate mini take-off and landing zones into the urban fabric, which will require acceptance (by the public), and the issue of noise will be essential”, she added.

In order to limit traffic pollution and reduce traffic jams, the idea of ​​flying taxis has gained ground around the world.

Volocopter has already tested its air taxi in different parts of the world, and last October chose Singapore for the first test in the heart of a city.

Several other companies are working on similar projects, including Boeing, Airbus, Toyota and Hyundai.

Earlier this month, Japanese company SkyDrive showed its compact manned eight-propeller vehicle flying around a testing ground.

Paris wants to beat Olympic traffic with flying taxis

© 2020 AFP

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