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. Volocopter announced in February 2020 that it had raised a total of €122 million (approx. $145M USD) since inception.
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 was the first crewed eVTOL multicopter flight in the world and was succeeded by the Volocopter VC2. The Volocopter VC1 is a one passenger eVTOL prototype aircraft with 16 individual rotors and has a maximum flight time of 20 minutes.
The VC2 debuted at the July 2012 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (USA). The pilot's seat was a paraglider harness with back protection located under the propellers for safety reasons and was located in the center of the aircraft. However, the VC2 never had a crewed flight, it was flown remotely, it featured 18 propellers (two more than the VC1) and had a flight time of more than one hour. The central seat was used for test payloads.
This Buckminster Fuller-inspired design was chosen so that everything would fit into a small box that could be easily shipped. The VC2's body consisted of a tetrahedron/octahedron aluminum truss frame. All struts were equal, one meter in length each, and there are two types of nodes: regular and one with the motor mounting plate. The VC2 was a more sophisticated design, very lightweight, rigid and a stronger aircraft, than the VC1.
The company made radio controlled test flights with the VC2, but there were no crewed flights. The aircraft had flight controls, separate and mutually monitoring onboard flight computers monitoring each motor for altitude and directional control and had a battery management unit. The eVTOL aircraft had three pilate balls in a tricycle formation under the open airframe for its landing gear.
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 in the world, including in Dubai and Singapore.
For more information on the other aircraft developed by Volocopter, please see the following aircraft pages:
- Aircraft type: eVTOL prototype
- Capacity: 1 pilot/passenger (however, it was never flown with a pilot, it was remotely flown)
- Cockpit: Pilot underneath the propellers, centered in the aircraft, in an open air cockpit. The aircraft has several separate computers onboard for flight control.
- Cruising speed: 100 km/h (62 mph)
- Flight time: More than one hour
- Flight control: Joystick
- Maximum altitude: 1,981 m (6,500 ft)
- Propellers: 18
- Electric engines: 18 (each electric motor output 2 kw)
- Batteries: Unknown number, possibly 18, with a battery management unit
- Fuselage: No covered fuselage, the aircraft has open aluminium framework
- Landing gear: Three pilate balls in a tricycle formation under the open airframe.
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. Future aircraft will have ballistic parachutes for additional safety.
- Volocopter website
- Volocopter Facebook
- Volocopter Twitter
- Volocopter YouTube
- Volocopter Wikipedia
- Volocopter VC2 Wikipedia
- Article: Manned maiden flight writes aviation history, Volocopter, Oct. 2011
- Video: World's first manned flight with an electric multicopter, forschungsbuero, Oct. 28, 2011
Article: E-Volo VC1 Volocopter has 16 rotors, flies over rush hour traffic, recombu, May 8, 2012
- Article: EAA AirVenture Today (Page 15), Airventure Today, July 22, 2012
- Article: It's official, It's a Volocopter Video (VC2), Sustainable Skies, July 16, 2012
- Article: Photos: The Rise of the Volocopter, Smithsonian Magazine, Mar. 2014
- Article: The Volocopter receives a certificate of airworthiness, Volocopter, Mar. 2016
- Article: World premier: Volocopter is flying manned! – A step forward in urban mobility, Volocopter, Apr. 2016
- Article: The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, January/February 2017
- Article: Air Mobility Bonanza Beckons Electric VTOL Developers, Vertiflite, March/April 2017
- Article: First ever public demonstration of an autonomous urban air taxi, Volocopter, Sept. 25, 2017
- Article: Intel CEO Brian Krzani first passenger on Volocopter, Volocopter, Jan. 8, 2018
- Article: Volocopter presents air taxi services at scale, Volocopter, Apr. 17, 2018
- Article: Mobility of the Future: Fraport and Volocopter Are Developing Airport Infrastructure and Passenger Processes for Air Taxi Services, Volocopter, Feb. 12, 2019
- White Paper: Pioneering The Urban Air Taxi Revolution, 1.0, Volocopter, June 6, 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
- Article: Successful integration of piloted air taxi into Air Traffic Management / UTM system, Volocopter, Aug. 30, 2019
- Article: Stuttgart see first urban flight of Volocopter in Europe, Volocopter, Sept. 9, 2019
- Article: World’s First Full-Scale Air Taxi VoloPort Unveiled in Singapore, Volocopter, Oct. 21, 2019
- Article: DB Schenker invests as Volocopter extends Series C Round to € 87 million, Volocopter, Feb. 21, 2020