Frankfurt, Bangkok, Dusseldorf Florian Reuter knows the traffic problems of Asia's megacities: For nine months, the head of the Bruchsal air taxi start-up Volocopter lived in Singapore, when he worked as a consultant after graduation. From the Southeast Asian country, he traveled the region and regularly stuck in the cities of the continent in a traffic jam.
Now he wants to present his multicopter just in Asia as an alternative to the congested roads: In Singapore, Volocopter takes off on Tuesday for a manned test flight – the first public in a city of millions. The start-up entrepreneur hopes to draw attention far beyond the borders of the city-state.
“We chose Singapore because it is one of the most technologically advanced cities and serves as a role model for other major cities,” says Reuter Handelsblatt. He was sure that a successful demonstration would raise interest in places where transport problems are particularly pressing. “We are thinking of Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok – these are all cities that we can convince with the example of Singapore that Urban Air Mobility is a genuine contribution to solving their problems.”
Not only Reuter advertises with all its might for the taxis as a new means of transport. Even the Chinese aircraft manufacturer EHang pushes on the pace. In Europe, the company is currently cooperating with Vodafone received. Because without modern 5G technology, the devices will never be able to fly autonomously.
Hu Huazhi, founder of EHang, is convinced that air taxis will prevail. “It's not about the if, it's just about when,” he says. In Munich, the founders of Lilium are working hard on their air taxi. Again, news is expected soon.
But among experts, doubts are growing as to whether the new vehicles will actually be one for the masses and thus relieve traffic on congested roads. That's what the investment bank sees Morgan Stanley in the passenger drones at most a means of transport for VIPs and wealthy.
In fact, the topic of a taxi is currently on the threshold between euphoria and disillusionment. After the boom at the end of 2018 and the beginning of this year, the first providers had to realize that their ideas could not be realized so easily. Have so airbus and Audi their work on their joint project just set.
The idea of a passenger capsule, which can be mounted both on a car chassis and under a rotor, has proven to be too complex and therefore probably too expensive, it says. At the same time, new partnerships are emerging. So have the US aircraft company Boeing and the German sports car manufacturer Porsche announced a few days ago, together to develop a vertical electric starter.
“Porsche wants to expand its reputation as a sports car manufacturer and become a leading brand for premium mobility,” said Detlev von Platen, Porsche's board member responsible for marketing and sales. “With our combined strengths, we can reach a possible key market of the future.”
The other providers are also not lacking in self-confidence: “No one is as far as we are,” claims EHang founder Hu. The production of his manned drones is expected to go into mass production later this year. For this EHang has formed a partnership with the Austrian aircraft supplier FACC.