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Future Tech

OK, who’s brave enough to fly in this passenger drone?

Volkswagen’s ‘Vertical Mobility’ project unveils an electric VTOL drone prototype. We wonder if we’re genuinely living in The Jetsons

Published: 01 Aug 2022

This is Volkswagen’s fully autonomous, all-electric, 10-rotor drone, which aims to take four passengers and their luggage “up to 200km” without a pilot. And that’s pretty optimistic, to say the least.

All up, it’s 11.2 long and 10.6 metres wide, with eight rotors for lift and two propellers for... well, propulsion, as you might expect. Test flights are scheduled for the end of this year; everything learned from the initial tests will be rolled into a second prototype that’ll conduct ‘advanced test flights’ in mid-2023.

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So, any guesses on the full name for this electric drone, with vertical take-off and landing, space for four passengers and range of 120 miles? Something like ‘e-future’, or perhaps ‘HAL-E’ or even ‘SkyLimo’, right? Er, no. It’s V.MO. How... lyrical.

Helpfully, it’s been nicknamed the Flying Tiger (given its launch in the Year of the Tiger), which really makes us hope the second prototype can be nicknamed the Hidden Dragon. You know why.

But let’s put our Wuxia fanboying aside for a moment and consider what Vee Dub is saying here – that, in its own words, “Urban air mobility is set to become a key market segment”. Or, to translate that out of Newspeak, that cross-city hops in airborne taxis will be a real thing in the future. That we’re going to shun the terrestrial transport networks we’ve spent centuries building and upgrading. That the skies above our homes will be filled with multi-rotor aircraft and everyone is going to be OK with that.

And that’s pretty optimistic, to say the least.

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