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Singapore emerges as likely destination for air taxis

This article is more than 12 months old

German start-up Volocopter said Singapore is emerging as one of the most likely destinations for the commercial launch of its electric helicopters, where it hopes to offer short-hop flights for the price of a limousine ride.

The co-founder of the company, which is working with Singapore regulators to conduct a public test flight in the coming months, said the city-state, Dubai and Germany were the markets most open to its air taxis.

A number of firms are trying to bring so-called air taxis to mass market but a lack of regulation and infrastructure, and safety concerns have proved barriers.

Volocopter, which counts Daimler, Intel and Geely among its backers, is targeting a planned commercial roll-out in two to three years of its drone-like taxis that resemble a small helicopter powered by 18 rotors.

"For the commercial routes, we have two customers profiles: One is a business customer, so perhaps from the airport to the business centre, or for tourists flying from Marina Bay to Sentosa," said Mr Alexander Zosel.

Mr Zosel said the start-up is looking for more financial partners in a funding round it plans to close in January 2020.

The firm has raised 85 million euros (S$128 million) to date, the latest in a 50 million euro tranche led by Chinese car maker Geely earlier this year.

Mr Zosel said the first commercial flights will be piloted, leaving room for only one passenger, but that in five to 10 years he hopes to transition to fully-autonomous flying. - REUTERS