Electric aircraft company Volocopter has announced this week that it has managed to accrue at least €25m in funding from a number of sources.
The company is one of a number of new aerospace startups trying to develop passenger multicopter aircraft.
Such aircraft, which in many ways resemble scaled-up quadcopter drones, are seen as a possible new transport solution for crowded urban areas.
Already Volocopter has debuted the world’s first multicopter with a certificate for manned flight – the Volocopter VC200.
This vehicle and new iterations of this design run fully on electric power, and will in the future also be fully autonomous, meaning they will not need to be used by qualified pilots.
Volocopter’s new funding, which is being provided by several parties, including German automotive manufacturer Daimler, will be used to fund the further development of these aircraft.
“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,” said Florian Reuter, 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”.
Volocopter sees its aircraft being used in the future as the backbone of an autonomous air taxi service, able to take passengers quickly from point A to point B without needing to worry about traffic congestion.
To this aim, the company is working with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai in order to develop the world’s first air taxi system, which will begin trials towards the end of this year.
This trail was awarded to Volocopter after they one first place in an earlier pilot project demonstrating the use of these vehicles in urban spaces.
Even with this new funding, however, the company still has a long way to go. Primarily, it will need to prove, through extensive aerial trails and testing, that its aircraft are safe.
Given that the technology underpinning these craft is very new, such safety guarantees will take a long time to achieve and require much more investment.