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This 18-rotor passenger drone could fly at the Paris Olympics

Volocopter put its VoloCity eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft in French skies recently and said it could be ready to launch passenger services at the Paris Olympics three years from now.

Volocopter Paris Air Forum 2021

The German company behind the 18-rotor, two-seat aircraft has been refining its design for the last decade as it competes with a slew of other firms exploring the urban mobility market.

Volocopter’s latest test run, shown in the video above, took place at Paris-Le Bourget Airport during this month’s Paris Air Forum. During the flawless flight, the machine covered a distance of 500 meters while traveling at speeds of up to 19 mph (30 kph) at an altitude of 98 feet (30 meters).

The VoloCity air taxi can fly autonomously or be controlled by an onboard pilot. The design also allows the vehicle to be flown remotely by a pilot on the ground. The vehicle can travel for about 18 miles (30 kilometers) on a single charge.

Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said this week that he’s aiming to bring an air taxi service to the area in time for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Looking at the VoloCity’s latest test flight, such an ambition seems realistic enough, though the final decision will rest with local regulators who will have to be convinced of the aircraft’s safety and also its ability to handle air traffic control systems. At the least, we could expect to see the launch of a limited passenger service that limits VoloCity to a tightly controlled route during the Paris Olympics, perhaps ferrying officials and/or athletes to and from a site close to the stadium.

In other efforts, Volocopter recently unveiled VoloConnect, an eVTOL aircraft designed to carry four passengers on journeys of up to 62 miles (100 km) at a speed of 112-mph (180 kph).  With its six sets of rotors, two propulsive fans, and retractable landing gear, the VoloConnect machine looks markedly different from VoloCity. The company is currently testing scaled prototypes of VoloConnect and hopes to achieve certification for the aircraft in the next five years.

Volocopter is also working on VoloDrone, an eVTOL aircraft designed to carry cargo. It looks very similar to VoloCity but has no cockpit, meaning it has to be operated remotely, or fly autonomously.

To view other air taxi designs currently under development by a slew of companies around the world, check out this collection compiled by Digital Trends.

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