Here is the fifth interview of our series #yourmobilityvision.
#yourmobilityvision is all about showing what the mobility of the future looks like by introducing those companies and the people behind them, that are working in this truly wonderful sector.
In this interview we are talking to Helena Treeck, Head of PR at Volocopter.
What is your company’s vision and how do you embrace it in your everyday doing?
At Volocopter, we are making the dream of electrical flight in cities come true. Yes, you’ve read right, we are making autonomous air taxis a reality. And to top it all off, we are working to launch them commercially as early as next year – at first with pilots and later fully autonomously.
Our Vision is to offer air taxi services – or Urban Air Mobility services, as the industry likes to call them – in traffic ridden metropolitan areas around the world as an addition to the existing mobility options such as subway, trams, busses, taxis, etc. We want to connect destinations in cities that are hard or slow to get to. Either because there is a hill, river or lake making detours necessary, or because the public transport and street connections have historically grown in a way that is now a hindrance. Air taxis can fly people to their destination in a straight line. Quick, quiet, and emission free in flight – the amazing birds-eye view of the city is just the cherry on top.
Our engineering and airworthiness teams are making sure our VoloCity – that’s the name of our air taxi – will be certified and adhere to the highest safety standards. But the aircraft itself is just a tiny part of the story. Our work in business development and communications is making sure that cities and people are ready once this new kind of mobility is available. So, together with experts within the company, we spend our time educating the public, governments and cities and fostering partnerships.
This is our way to make sure that air taxis are not only technologically feasible (and cool), but also something that people want, because they understand how they work.
What is the core business of your company?
In a sentence, we are offering a reliable, safe, and direct way to get our customers to where they want or need to be. As a customer I will open my app and get to use air taxi services seamlessly. Air taxis have the advantage that they are not impacted by traffic on the ground and do not require a ton of infrastructure – think roads, tunnels, trail, bridges, you name it, we probably don’t need it – as we can fly customers directly to their destination.
Looking at Volocopter from the inside, it is really the mobility platform that we are offering that’s our core business. Once we have launched our services, the largest challenge is to orchestrate the complex symphony of Urban Air Mobility. What’s a click to our customers is thousands of data points in the background – checking battery charging levels, flight routes in the city, safety and air traffic management approvals, weather data, vehicle availability, travel time – amongst many more to turn that click into an enjoyable air taxi ride. We will be doing all this at a global scale in order to make our air taxi services as effective and efficient as possible.
We call our digital backbone that makes this global approach possible VoloIQ and are already using it in testing our flights and operations.
What is special about your company? What are the aspects you are particularly proud of?
We are true pioneers! When our founders Stephan Wolf, Thomas Senkel, and Alex Zosel made the VC-1 or Yoga-Ball-Volocopter fly in 2011, they were the very first to prove this was even possible. A true zero to one moment. At the time, they put up a video of the flight and became famous overnight – despite the video still being unlisted on YouTube at the time.
And it is in this spirit Volocopter continues to push on. We became the first electrically powered multicopter globally to be certified for manned flight in 2016, by a German authority. In 2019 we became the first – and to this day only air taxi startup – to receive the coveted Design Organisation Approval by the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Authority – the authority that keeps all flight traffic safe in Europe). This is a stamp of confidence after years of due diligence of the authority that they believe we are indeed capable of building a safe commercial aircraft.
You see, we are a German company located in a small town in Baden-Württemberg. We have kept our German engineering mindset at the core while attracting worldwide talent to bring this amazing air taxi technology to cities around the world.
What is the impact you would like to have on the mobility of the future?
Let’s be honest: When I joined Volocopter three and a half years ago, I was so mind-blown that people are seriously working on making battery powered air taxis, that I couldn’t pass the amazing opportunity to help shape that story.
Having grown into this unbelievable role, I hope to do my tiny little part in diversifying mobility – adding more options to the existing portfolios and in the mid-term move away from individually owned transportation as much as possible. We already have many options in bigger cities, and with autonomous technologies getting better and more widely accepted, shared mobility will spread farther and farther into the more rural areas too.
Thanks to technology we will be able to share means of transport and offer mobility to ever more people. With autonomously driving minibuses we can serve elderly people in the countryside to connect them to other communities and with autonomous air taxis we can help those in a hurry in large cities to get to their destinations faster.