At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas, Intel today showed off its prototype of Volocopter, which according to the company is “essentially a flying car”. However, it is basically a drone that is big enough to carry a passenger.
It is being showcased as an autonomous passenger taxi, which is powered by a battery and comes with 18-rotors. While showing off this device, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich said:
Imagine pulling out your phone, opening up a transportation app and summoning your own personalized ride by air taxi. That sci-fi vision of the future is actually much closer than you might think.
The Volocopter is originally a product of a Germany-based company that was founded in 2012. The company first demonstrated its passenger drone in 2013 in its home country. It was brought in front of the attendees at the Monte Carlo Hotel of Park Theatre by Intel as it has entered into a partnership with the German company.
While Brian Krzanich displayed this flying car at CES that runs on battery and is thusly emission-free, don’t expect to see this working in real world anytime soon. In the keynote stream, a disclaimer popped-up which noted that the Volocopter won’t be available until it receives authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Volocopter uses four inertial movement units (IMUs) that constantly measure and determine its attitude and positioning during flight. The battery system is split into nine discrete packs and each one is powering a pair of rotors ensuring that the vehicle keeps flying if one or two battery packs fail.
Then there are GPS and navigation systems which are dual-redundant. For the worst situation, there’s a ballistic parachute that will deploy and ensure that the air taxi returns to the ground with its passengers intact.
The Volocopter VC200 was the first such device demonstrated by the Germany-based company. Later, the company followed that with the Volocopter 2X, which is a more polished version that’s supposed to be the company’s first true production vehicle. It features 30 minutes of flight time and a maximum range of 17 miles. Volocopter says the batteries can be quickly swapped to increase the flight time until the technology improves.