Increasing traffic congestion in cities is driving developers to explore new solutions. One of these involves using airspace for urban mobility. At the GreenTech Festival held in Berlin from 23–25 May 2019, the air taxi pioneer Volocopter, together with Skyports, the British Vertiport developer and operator, announced their plan to produce the first mobile Volo-Port for air taxis before the end of the year.
This physical landing platform is due to be presented during the Volovopter’s public test flights, scheduled to take place in Singapore in the second half of the year. At the GreenTech Festival the two partners revealed detailed plans by the renowned agency Brandlab, which designed the Volo-Port in collaboration with Graft Architects.
Focusing on flexibility and adaptability
The landing facilities – known as «Vertiports», – are the only infrastructure that will be required to operate air taxis in cities in the near future. According to Duncan Walker, Managing Director of Skyports, a flexible landing infrastructure is essential for the success of Urban Air Mobility (UAM): «Each Volo-Port is designed so that it can be operated either alone or in various combinations with other Volo-Ports. This approach allows for quick set-up, as well as dynamic growth of the infrastructure.»
Test run for a new mobility concept
The Volo-Ports provide passengers with a seamless air taxi experience. Thanks to their transparent design, they blend into the surroundings, enabling passengers to take in the structure in a single glance. The first mobile Volo-Port prototype is intended to test the entire customer journey in real-life conditions: this will include planned services and passenger processes, pre-flight checks and boarding procedures, as well as critical ground operations such as battery replacement and charging, Volocopter maintenance and safety checks. A further aim is to present the infrastructure to the relevant authorities, and gather feedback for ongoing development.
A new infrastructure that connects ground and sky
Linda Stannieder, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Brandlab, explains the background to this project: «Mobility patterns in metropolitan centres are changing at a breakneck speed. To provide an efficient inner-city public transport network, we need seamless processes, maximum fusion of digital and analogue interfaces, and a maximum level of adaptability at the location in question. Our design, along with all of the functions and the customer experience, connects the ground infrastructure with the air infrastructure. Our goal is to create an infrastructure that inspires trust and enthusiasm.»
Ready for take-off
Exactly when the first Volo-Port will be available for customer use depends on the test phase and final approvals. Alex Zosel, Co-Founder of Volocopter, explains the next steps: «It’s just a matter of time until we get commercial approval for our air taxi. That’s why we’re already concentrating on developing the necessary ecosystem that covers all aspects of Urban Air Mobility. That includes air traffic management and the legal framework in different cities, as well as building the necessary take-off and landing infrastructure. As soon as we have the necessary permissions – and that will be quite soon – we’ll be ready to take off.»
Pictures © Brandlab, Skyports, Volocopter, GRAFT.