Prototypes are finally taking off after a difficult time for investors, and some surprising challengers have joined the race
Among the fighter jets and military helicopters performing for the crowds at the Paris airshow last week, a strange two-seater craft lifted off the runway. Like a drone crossed with a helicopter, the Volocopter has an electric motor and a white wasp-shaped body, on top of which sits a circular frame supporting 18 separate sets of blades, or rotors. With that short flight, the dream of making flying taxis for the masses moved a little closer to becoming reality.
Made by a German startup, Volocopter was the only such vehicle actually flying at the show, while other companies displayed mock-ups. Getting from the costly design and testing phase to even costlier manufacturing will be a major challenge for the industry. Not all of the competitors will survive.