2020 witnessed less demand for airplanes, trains and buses due to COVID-19 pandemic. But one of the startups hoping to pioneer a totally new approach to travelling, which is flying taxis, has just raised some significant funding.
Volocopter, a Germany-based startup that has been building and testing electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, has picked up about $241 million in a Series D round of funding.
Till date, Volocopter has tested its craft in flights in Helsinki, Stuttgart, Dubai and over Singapore’s Marina Bay. In addition to Europe and Asia, it also wants to launch services in the US.
This latest Series D includes investments from a mix of financial and strategic backers.
“Getting urban air mobility off the ground requires a full ecosystem that we are developing right now. Many of our strategic partners will support us on different aspects of the supply chain, scaling components, entering markets, improving operations amongst others. Most of them know certain aspects of our business model really well,” said Rene Griemens, the company’s CFO.
The company has raised nearly $390 million till date.
Founded in 2011, Volocopter has now been working on its idea, noted for its very wide circular design that sits where the rotor on a helicopter would be, for a whole decade.
The business is yet to make any money, and the product that it’s building is very groundbreaking, flying into completely unchartered territory and therefore ultimately untested. But for now, the company says that technology is no longer the barrier, and neither it seems are regulators, who are more focused on considering new approaches to old problems to improve efficiency in the pandemic times.
In the case of VTOL model, the promise has always been that they could overcome a lot of the issues with street congestion in urban areas, and provide a better alternative to present-day transportation modes. Volocopter’s model is based around transporting one person or small parties, which makes it more attractive.
On the other hand , the challenge has been determining the safety both of completely new devices, and also of the traffic and other systems that they would operate under. Another twist of complexity comes into the picture as they would ultimately become autonomous.