Volocopter is a flying taxi manufacturing firm, and it has now entered into a joint venture with NEOM which is a sustainable city development in Saudi Arabia, to build and operate the “world’s first public vertical mobility system.”
The project was initiated with NEOM ordering 15 Volocopter aircraft from the German electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup. The operations are expected to begin in two to three years.
NEOM is a $500 billion sustainable regional development that advertises itself as a city of the future — its name translates to “new future” in English. It aims to work on renewable and sustainable energy. It refers to itself as a “reimagined industrial city” built on the foundation of renewable energy, technological progress, and inclusion.
NEOM is described as “a region in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea being built from the ground up as a living laboratory — a place where entrepreneurship will chart the course for this New Future.”
They will build a public transit system using eVTOL technologies with the integration of Volocopter’s flying taxi service with NEOM’s zero-emission public transport system. This venture “will be the sole operator of initial public transit routes across Neom, while enabling an open eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) ecosystem for vertical mobility services including logistics, emergency response, and tourism.”
This helicopter will have 10 VoloCity passenger aircraft and five VoloDrone logistics aircraft. Its range has two models and the fixed-wing VoloConnect aircraft, which is designed for suburb-to-city commutes.
NEOM will begin working on its ecosystem for the urban air mobility project in 2022. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation,” said Christian Bauer, Volocopter’s chief commercial officer.
The timeline for the new joint venture is in keeping with Volocopter’s assertion in March that it would start its flying taxi services “within two years” in Paris and Singapore. Other eVTOL firms are also working on a similar timeline. The UK startup Urban-Air Port will build 200 flying taxi vertiports with another firm to help enable the transition to urban air mobility.