Germany-based tech startup, Volocopter, recently secured €50 million ($55.3 million) in Series C funding, with the most significant investment coming from Volvo's Chinese parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding, The Verge reported yesterday.
If this is the first you've heard of flying taxis, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's a ways off. However, Series C funding is typically the stage were a startup is already considered quite viable, with their business plan typically having been well-received within the marketplace. Volocopter announced that it plans to use the funds to begin servicing humanity with its 18-rotor electric 4th generation flying taxi, VoloCity, a craft with several upgrades over the previous 2X model. The 2X model was shown at CES 2018, per previous reporting from The Inquisitr.
The Global Times reported that Mercedes-Benz' parent company, Daimler AG, is also invested in a flying taxi future, securing a 10 percent stake in Volocopter. The German manufacturer made this move shortly after Intel announced it would be providing tech support for the startup, adding to the impressive list of backers for this unlikely business model.
This recent funding development is especially noteworthy given that electrically powered flight is notoriously difficult to achieve with current battery technology. While Elon Musks's Tesla cars are one thing, contending against gravity is quite another in terms of power consumption. At this stage in development, the company expects initial flights to be somewhere in the region of 30 minutes long, covering some 22 miles (35 km) in distance. Flying taxis are projected to hit speeds of around 68 mph, a perfectly adequate speed suited to reduce the worst traffic jams in many major cities.
Earlier this year, a prototype was successfully tested at the international airport of Finland's capital, Helsinki. You can see the impressive display of electric vertical landing and takeoff (eVTOL) technology below.While some consumers may not feel overwhelmingly confident about jumping into a flying machine -- one which is essentially the first of its kind -- the company feels confident that safety is far from a problem, even stating so on the official Volocopter site.
"Volocopter features multiple redundancy systems, ensuring a virtually failsafe aircraft. The redundant systems includes the rotors, electro motors, batteries, avionics, and display. Furthermore all communication networks are connected through fibre optic cable – 'fly by light' so to say."This may sound reassuring enough as far as marketing materials go, and it seems that investors agree. The company has secured €85 million ($94 million) in funding thus far, and with such an impressive list of household names now owning significant shares in the company, it seems our Back to the Future-inspired vision of flying vehicles is now more inevitable than ever.