Flying Taxi Takes off for First Time in North America

Jan 9, 2018

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2018 may be the year of the flying car. More and more companies are showing off their prototypes of their flying taxis with two major brands actively displaying their arsenal at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

Volocopter’s air taxi took flight for the first time inside the US last night when it lifted off in front of a crowd at Intel’s keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Intel has partnered with the German company to develop an autonomous air taxi that will one day ferry people throughout cities. Volocopter is using Intel’s flight control software to power the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The software is also used in Intel’s remote controlled drones.

Volocopter demonstrated an unmanned flight of the aircraft in Dubai in September and has now shared a video of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich flying the aircraft. 

Right now, the electric vehicle seats just two and tops out at 30 minutes of flight time with a maximum range of 17 miles.

The Verge got exclusive access to the new Volocopter 2x, the latest model, which doesn’t feature a joystick, meaning it’s completely autonomous.

While not close to a working prototype, Bell Helicopters is also showing off its own electric flying taxi concept at CES.

Bell Helicopter's air taxi concept. Image courtesy of Bell Helicopter.
Bell Helicopter’s air taxi concept pod. Image courtesy of Bell Helicopter.

Bell’s pod features a four passenger cabin, but the renderings have yet to show any sort of rotors or engines that will help get the autonomous vehicle off the ground.

Last year Bell announced it would be working with Uber to develop an electric aircraft that the ride-sharing company could use for on-demand flights. Bell told The Verge that it hopes to have a VTOL vehicle ready for Uber by 2020.

While both Volocopter and Bell want to make the new mode of transportation available and affordable for everyone, it’s not clear how prices will be kept low.

Featured image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

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