Welcome to the future of helicopter travel

The 18-rotor Volocopter could make personal urban flight a reality, and it could happen very soon.

Meryl D'Souza April 19, 2016

Earlier this year, we told you about the EHang 184 – an autonomous drone capable of carrying a human being – that showed up at the relatively quiet Consumer Electronics Show.

While we were impressed, we didn’t expect passenger drones to really be a thing for a while. But the pursuit of personal flight was given a huge boost recently in the shape of this futuristic-looking helicopter. 

Presenting E-Volo’s Volocopter VC200, an electric 18-rotor multicopter that recently completed its first manned test flight without a hitch and even received an endorsement from NASA. 

Built from fiber composite material, the spaceship-like helicopter weighs in at 450 kilograms, is powered by nine individual batteries and can hit a top speed of 100 km/h. It can take off and land vertically, and hover in the air as needed.

But don’t let those stats intimidate you; the Volocopter is designed specifically for personal flight, with easy to use controls making it possible for the average Joe to take it for a spin. 

While first test flight saw the Volocopter reach speeds of 25 km/h, it stayed at a relatively low altitude. In the second phase of testing, the multicopter will reach double the speed with greater altitude, before the final phase will speed things up to 100 km/h.

Along with it being easy to fly, emission-free and relatively quiet, the German company hopes the manned drone can make its way into the urban landscape and even replace taxi services in the future. If things go according to plan, E-Volo could start pre-orders as early as later this year, with the first product hitting markets by the start of 2018. 

While we’re normally excited about technology, we really can’t wait for this one to come to the Middle East. Imagine soaring over traffic on a Thursday rush hour, or taking it to the beach in a naming emirate. Or better yet, the inevitable World Volocopter Racing Series, akin to the World Drone Prix that took place in Dubai last month. 

With personal flight vehicles now almost a reality, the future is definitely here.