Volocopter GmbH was founded in 2011 in Karlsruhe, Germany, by Alexander Zosel and Stephen Wolf with the intent of making an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) multicopter aircraft for fast and efficient urban travel. Known as “e-volo GmbH” until being renamed in July 2017, the company is now based in Bruchsal, Germany.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the first manned flight of an electric multicopter was the Volocopter VC1 prototype. The VC1 multicopter was flown by co-founder, primary designer, inventor and builder, Thomas Senkel on Oct. 21, 2011.
The Volocopter VC1 utilized sixteen (16) individual rotors for up to 20 minutes of flight time. The multicopter weighed 80 kg (176.4 lb) and has a 5 m by 5 m profile (16.4 ft by 16.4 ft). The first flight lasted only 90 seconds, but served its purpose as the prototype to later Volocopter models like the Volocopter VC200, Volocopter 2X and Volocopter VoloCity.
The YouTube video from the first flight reached 1 million hits after a few days of the flight. The overwhelming worldwide response from the first flight gave an indication that the world was ready for urban air travel which gave confirmation to the team to move forward and develop a certified electric aircraft.
The Volocopter VC1 was succeeded by the Volocopter VC2, which was an unmanned demonstrator that featured 18 propellers instead of 16. Its body consisted of a tetrahedron/octahedron aluminum truss frame with a central seat for test payloads. All struts were equal with 1 m length; there are two types of nodes: regular and with the motor mounting plate.
The VC2 debuted in 2012 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This Buckminster Fuller-inspired design was chosen so that everything would fit into a small box that could be easily shipped (e.g. to Oshkosh). The frame was very lightweight and rigid. The pilot’s seat was a paraglider harness with back protection. e-volo made some radio controlled test flights with the VC2, but no manned flights.
Volocopter will be manufacturing the aircraft, running the air taxi service, building Voloports, allow passengers to request a flight through an app, will not be selling their aircraft to individuals and will offer air taxi urban travel at competitive prices.
Volocopter stated in November 2019 that the VC1, VC2, VC200 and 2X prototypes have collectively made over 1,000 test flights, including in Dubai and Singapore.
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- Article: World’s First Full-Scale Air Taxi VoloPort Unveiled in Singapore, Volocopter, Oct. 21, 2019
- Article: Stuttgart see first urban flight of Volocopter in Europe, Volocopter, Sept. 9, 2019
- Article: Successful integration of piloted air taxi into Air Traffic Management / UTM system, Volocopter, Aug. 30, 2019
- Article: Volocopter Unveils VoloCity, Its First Production eVTOL, Aviation International News Online, Aug. 21, 2019
- Article: Volocopter reveals design for new Urban Air Mobility aircraft Volocity to become first commercial Volocopter aircraft, Volocopter, Aug. 21, 2019
- White Paper: Pioneering The Urban Air Taxi Revolution, 1.0, Volocopter, June 6, 2019
- Article: Mobility of the Future: Fraport and Volocopter Are Developing Airport Infrastructure and Passenger Processes for Air Taxi Services, Volocopter, Feb. 12, 2019
- Article: Volocopter presents air taxi services at scale, Volocopter, Apr. 17, 2018
- Article: Intel CEO Brian Krzani first passenger on Volocopter, Volocopter, Jan. 8, 2018
- Article: First ever public demonstration of an autonomous urban air taxi, Volocopter, Sept. 25, 2017
- Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017
- Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017
- Article: World premier: Volocopter is flying manned! – A step forward in urban mobility, Volocopter, Apr. 2016
- Article: The Volocopter receives a certificate of airworthiness, Volocopter, Mar. 2016
- Article: Photos: The Rise of the Volocopter, Smithsonian Magazine, Mar. 2014
- Article: It’s official, It’s a Volocopter Video (VC2), Sustainable Skies, July 16, 2012
- Article: E-Volo VC1 Volocopter has 16 rotors, flies over rush hour traffic, recombu, May 8, 2012
- Article: Manned maiden flight writes aviation history, Volocopter, Oct. 2011
- Video: World’s first manned flight with an electric multicopter, forschungsbuero, Oct. 28, 2011