The prospect of flying taxis transporting real people around London, or in any busy city for that matter, seems to many as a distant novelty that could only happen in a James Bond film. But, according to a German aviation company Volocopter, the taxi of the future could be coming to London sooner than previously thought, after the company said it was looking at how its autonomous vehicles could work in City.
Earlier this year, Volocopter unveiled its plans and air taxi infrastructure for cities, including landing stations on top of buildings, hotels and other at transport hubs. In an interview with City A.M., the company revealed that it has begun evaluating how the air taxis could work in London and had begun conversations with London City representatives around its implementation.
Conversations have also been had between Volocopter and representatives of Oxford Airport – a company which specialises in business aviation and runs a helicopter shutter service to central London in minutes – very much on the forefront of urban air mobility in the City.
The Volocopter flying taxi is a two-seater plane, currently being trialled in Dubai and is backed by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.
Volocopter has received investment backing from high profile investors including, multinational automotive company Daimler, and the technologies company Intel.
However, Volocopter is not without competition as there are currently several companies around the world working on autonomous passenger drones.
Examples include, start-up company Autonomous Flight that has designed the Y6S, the first UK autonomous passenger drone, which is designed to travel from Heathrow to Charing Cross Station in just 12 minutes – impressive. But given it is a two-seater plane with limited, or no room for luggage, one wonders how practical these passenger drones would be as the potentially quickest mode of transport from Heathrow to central London in 12 minutes.
Uber, the ride-hailing firm has teamed up with NASA in a bid to launch flying taxis by 2023, with plans to open a laboratory in Paris to develop them, in partnership with prestigious engineering school Ecole Polytechnique.