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An electric, flying autonomous Uber: Volocopter makes its first test flight
AN ELECTRIC, FLYING AUTONOMOUS UBER: VOLOCOPTER MAKES ITS FIRST TEST FLIGHT
Are you ready for the autonomous passenger drone future?
Jet packs and flying cars are finally back on the drawing boards of inventors, and they frankly sound more exciting than the lazy autonomous future that automakers are promising us at the moment. Several startups are taking different approaches to small vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, and a number are already conducting full-scale tests — unmanned for now.
Forget self-driving cars: Flying cars are the next hot thing. Who wants to sort through work emails during their commute in the back of a sedan as it inches through gridlock? Where we’re going, we …
While the VTOL tech behind the Volocopter seems perfectly realistic, we’re a little more skeptical about the company’s plans for autonomous operation given where autonomous driving tech is at the moment. Yes, there are fewer obstacles in the air, but they including serious ones like power lines, and even the most modern of helicopters still require a lot of skilled human decision-making — the practical differences between an electric VTOL craft that uses many small rotors and a classic helo are few.
Volocopter isn’t the only one developing new types of electric VTOL craft; Lilium tested its two-seat e-VTOL Eagle craft just a few months ago, a plane/VTOL hybrid that uses small jets to take off vertically and then transitions to winged forward flight. The Eagle prototype has a top speed of 186 mph and promises around 190 miles of range on a full charge.
The world has been ready for a flying car future for a while and is certainly ready for an electric car future. We’re just not sure if the world is ready for an autonomous electric flying car future quite yet.