Volocopter is to supply electric flying machines for the planned city of Neom in Saudi Arabia. The partners have formed a joint venture to build an eVTOL mobility system. Neom has placed an order for 15 Volocopter flying machines and plans to begin flight operations within the next two to three years.
The joint venture will be the sole operator of the first routes in the planned city, according to the statement. This will not only involve air taxi services, but also “vertical logistics services – the VoloDrone cargo drone had just completed its first public test flight in the Port of Hamburg in October. Specifically, Neom has ordered five VoloDrones and ten VoloCitys.
The routes are not only to connect destinations in Neom City, but also to link Neom with the industrial city of Oxagon. The traffic concept of ‘The Line’ – a 170-kilometre-long ribbon city – envisages that only pedestrians and cyclists will travel above ground. The rest of the traffic will take place underground with autonomously driving vehicles. Or in the air.
The air taxi routes are also to be “fully integrated into Neom’s multimodal and zero-emission transport system”. The joint venture will also build an open platform for vertical mobility services, which will then integrate other services for logistics, but also emergency operations and tourist flights.
“In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the center of the equation,” says Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of Neom. “Through this joint venture with Volocopter, we are demonstrating to the world that NEOM is the ideal region to implement urban air mobility rapidly and create a fully integrated vertical mobility ecosystem. NEOM is on a mission to become a global living lab for future mobility, and we are very excited to see what the future holds as we grow.”
Volocopter CCO Christian Bauer adds that Neom is a unique opportunity to “be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation, and as pioneers in the industry, Volocopter is honored to be the trusted partner to contribute to NEOM’s ambitious vision”. This should also avoid additional road construction and thus preserve the “unique nature”.
At the end of November it became known that Volocopter had cancelled its planned SPAC IPO in the USA. The reason given, as was also the case with Lilium’s SPAC IPO in September – was that the market environment was unfavourable.
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