Volocopter’s 18-roto air taxi prototype known as Volocopter VC200 took flight for the first time in the United States at CES 2018. The VC200 is not exactly the flying car or the conventional taxi that movies like Blade Runner or cartoon television shows such as The Jetsons helped us imagine.
Instead of all of that, it is just a drone where you can sit and it will take you to the destination of your choice. Regardless of the form factor of a drone in place of a finished and streamline flying car, it still is a possible way for users to get from one place to another, at some time in future. The thing also served as a happy distraction from the current headache of Meltdown and Spectre that Intel is facing these days.
This demonstration of the device also works as a morale booster for the company right after Nvidia announced its partnership with Uber and Volkswagen to test its AI-chip for an autonomous-driving solution. According to the exclusive report by The Verge, Intel took the 50-person Volocopter team from Germany to CES to highlight the fact that it is indeed working on the next wave of personal transportation. This signifies that the company is working with different partners to try and capture a new market instead of the driver-less efforts that Alphabet, Uber, and Nvidia are focusing on as pointed out by Jan Stumpf, the Chief of architecture for Intel’s drone group.
This is not the first time or maiden attempt by the company at making a drone capable of transporting people. It was previously known as E-Volo and it has been working even before 2011 on different prototypes while testing them for test flights. Intel also revealed videos for the Volocopter 2X which is supposed to be a more polished version of the Volocopter VC200. 2X is expected to be the first “true production” vehicle with 30 minutes of flight time and a maximum of 17 miles.
The batteries of the 2X can be swapped to compensate for the range and flight time until the technology improves. What is interesting is the fact that if this pays off, then the development will be as significant as what SpaceX has done in the private aerospace manufacturer and transport services company.