Friday, April 10, 2020
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Hover-taxi whizzes over Singapore, firm eyes Asian push

Malay News: A drone-like flying taxi whirred over Singapore’s waterfront Tuesday, with the firm behind the test hoping the aircraft will revolutionise travel in traffic-choked Asian cities.

The 18 propeller vehicle, developed by German firm Volocopter and with a pilot onboard for safety during the test flight, took off from a promontory and flew for about two minutes and 30 seconds around the Marina Bay district.

Heavy rains in the morning almost delayed the flight, but the skies cleared in time for the battery-operated, two-seater taxi to quietly fly past skyscrapers.

While the hover-taxis — resembling small helicopters but powered by drone-like technology — are autonomous, there was a pilot inside during the test for safety reasons.

Volocopter has already conducted tests in Dubai, Helsinki, Germany and Las Vegas but the Singapore trial is the company’s first in the heart of a city.

The orderly metropolis is likely to be among the first to get the service, with a commercial rollout expected in two to four years, and Volocopter then hopes to introduce the vehicles in traffic-clogged Asian cities.

“We aim to bring it to Jakarta and Manila and Bangkok because they have a great need for it, India and China (too),” Volocopter chief executive Florian Reuter told reporters.

Sprawling cities — like Jakarta and Manila — are notorious for monster traffic jams, which leave millions of commuters facing long journeys, and can delay executives trying to dash to airports or reach important meetings on time.