Blessed by otters, Volocopter takes maiden public test flight over Marina Bay amidst gloomy skies

PHOTO: Volocopter

Despite the gloomy, forbidding skies glowering over Marina Bay like a bad omen, Volocopter managed to conduct a maiden test flight this afternoon (Oct 22) — if only for a brief moment before the rain started pouring again. 

Earlier today, German air taxi pioneer Volocopter and UK-based urban air mobility infrastructure firm Skyports officially opened a prototype of the world’s first flying taxi airport, dubbed VoloPort. 

The prototype airport is located on the Float @ Marina Bay and hosts a static Volocopter 2X vehicle for display.

PHOTO: Facebook / Volocopter

As you can see from the tweets by Engadget Senior Editor Richard Lai, the heavy rain very much dampened the start of the event. 

https://twitter.com/richardlai/status/1186480516465221633

Fortunately, the rain ceased just in time for an opening ceremony before the test flight kicked off at around 12pm. 

https://twitter.com/richardlai/status/1186485084578148352

The actual vertiport located across the bay will be used for live flight trials for on-demand air taxi services before it actually launches for real — something that's estimated to take flight from 2022 onwards. With heavy rain threatening to start again, the egg-shaped electric vehicle took flight, hovering over the Singapore River cautiously for about two to three minutes before flying back to the landing site. 

https://twitter.com/colindhillon/status/1186497276618989569 https://twitter.com/studySingapore/status/1186496722416984065

Lifeboats stood by at the river just in case anything went wrong during the public demonstration with reporters and VIPs in attendance.

https://twitter.com/WarrenAli3/status/1186497259007033344

Considering the bad weather, it's surprising that the demo took place in the end. Volocopter probably has the Singapore otters to thank for blessing the VoloPort with their presence on Sunday.

Mysterious 5 Otters Super excited to go for the very first Drone Taxi flight experience in Singapore. The Public showcase is scheduled for tomorrow.

Posted by Otter Kwek on Sunday, October 20, 2019

Precautionary measures

Speaking at VoloPort’s unveiling yesterday, the firm’s chief executive Florian Reuter told reporters that flight trials of the air taxis will be conducted with pilots aboard first before eventually trying for autonomous runs. 

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World's first flying taxi vertiport set to make landing in Marina Bay come October
World's first flying taxi vertiport set to make landing in Marina Bay come October

“The VoloPort is an important step towards establishing an entire air taxi solution in Singapore,” says Duncan Walker, Managing Director of Skyports.

“Skyports has identified a number of potential VoloPort locations and air taxi routes across the city-state.”

The maiden test flight today may have been successful, but you’ll probably have to wait out a couple of years before on-demand air taxi services become a reality here. 

ilyas@asiaone.com