Entrepreneur Alexander Zosel was 15 years old in 1981 when he visualised soaring through the air — albeit with feet planted safely on a skateboard, from the upper reaches of a vertical skateboard ramp.
With help from a few friends at the time, he designed and built one of the first skateboard half-pipes in Germany to realise the ambition of ‘getting air’.
By 2010, Zosel’s quest to slip the surly bonds of earth had fully matured into a revolutionary idea — a self-flying air taxi that could be summoned on demand from a smartphone app by everyday commuters in big cities.
This week, on Dubai’s windswept sandy flats of Jumeirah open beach intersecting the mouth of Dubai Canal, Zosel’s visionary concept took off, if you’ll excuse the pun.
With eyes to the sky, Zosel watched as he and his team’s creation — the world’s first autonomous air taxi dubbed Volocopter — hummed to life from its perch on a paved helipad.
With nary a sound, the electric multicopter lifted skyward under the power of 18 electric engines, made a series of passes against a setting orange sun and landed safe and sound, marking the air taxi’s history-making world premiere.
An assembly of Dubai’s leaders witnessed the feat first-hand, including Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who observed: “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future.”
Global aviation history may very well record Dubai’s innovative test flight on Monday of the Volocopter concept aircraft as the day aerial mobility in big cities became reality, ushering in a new age when commuters in the not-too-distant future fly high above the smog-clad traffic congestion below.
“We have worked very hard in the last six years on regulations and safety issues to bring this aircraft to a high level of security standards,” Zosel, Volocopter GmbH co-founder, said.
Zosel was speaking to Gulf News at the test-flight site in an exclusive interview during a subsequent trial aerial run.
Volocopter GmbH CEO Florian Reuter recounted with Gulf News the relief the entire company team experienced when their 18-propellor multicopter touched down after passing the inaugural Dubai test flight with flying colours.
“It is really exciting to have accomplished this milestone in record time with Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA),” Reuter said. “From an international perspective, it’s the first urban aerial taxi to be embraced by an aviation authority anywhere in the world that we know of.”
Take-off for air taxis
The RTA and Volocopter inked a major agreement in June following Dubai’s announcement seven months ago at the World Government Summit that its futuristic skyline would be filled with autonomous air taxis perhaps as early as Dubai Expo 2020 pending several years of rigorous safety testing.
Not long after Dubai’s agreement with Volocopter this summer, car manufacturer Daimler invested $25 million into the company based in Bruchsal, Germany leading many to speculate that major cities around the world in coming years will soon follow Dubai and Volocopter’s enthusiastic lead.
Indeed, Volocopter believes it is at the forefront of an urban mobility transformation that will see air taxis evolve as an efficient and environmentally friendly, zero-carbon alternative to ground travel.
“The fully electric Volocopter will transform the concept of urban mobility. Not only does it relieve the strain of traffic on the roads, it also delivers people to their destination much faster — completely free of direct emissions and on demand. It opens up a completely new perspective on our city as a prime living space,” the company said on its website.
Michael Rudolph, head, Aviation Regulations and Safety, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, said the emirate has spent a great deal of time and energy researching the conceptual air taxi in the interest of safety.
While a long list of test flights and further studies lie ahead for both Dubai and Volocopter in trials lasting three to five years, Rudolph said the partnership is off to a very good start.
Fact-finding teams from Dubai made several visits to the Volocopter factory to examine Germany’s world-renowned engineering evident in the design and components of the air taxi, he said.
“We had to identify the risk different to Europe in the fact that we have severe summer temperatures. That has an impact on this vehicle because it is powered by means of batteries,” Rudolph said.
“A number of what we call risk assessments were done to validate and mitigate how best to operate the vehicle safely, at what time of day and obviously understanding the various components of the vehicle to see if they would be compromised by the severe climatic conditions we experience in the UAE.”
Rudolph pointed out that the Volocopter has nine independent batteries each of which charges two of the air taxi’s total arsenal of 18 electric engines. If one battery fails to provide power to two engines, 16 of the 18 propellers and engines would still be operational and the design redundancy would keep commuters safe until landing, he said.
An upside to the new taxis, he said, aside from the low acoustic signature, is the fact that it is electric powered and does not make carbon emissions in keeping with Dubai’s aim to slash its greenhouse gases.
The second biggest contributor to carbon emissions in Dubai is exhaust from petrol engines in daily road traffic.
The maximum forward speed of the Volocopter is 100 kmh, he said, but the air taxi would fly at a lower speed to conserve battery stores that provide up to 28 minutes flying time.
Employment seeking girl steals N108k from her prospective employer
Opportunity comes but once, this young girl believes as she stole N108k from her prospective employer. A female jobseeker has been captured for taking One Hundred and Eight Thousand Naira amid her prospective employee meeting in Delta State.
It was accumulated that the businessperson at the organization had ventured out to get something, leaving the suspect in the workplace. The young lady professedly utilized the chance to take N108k and fled.
Good fortune, be that as it may, ran out on her, days after the fact, while going through the road where the workplace is found. She was expeditiously caught and dragged to her home where the rest of the cash was recovered.
Lagos tenant uses Landlord’s apartment to dupe house appliance vendors of N50 million
Hey peepz, I have a gist tho I don’t know if it’s true or not..But I will say it Sha. I was just walking on the street 2receive fresh air when I saw a couple. d man was telling his wife about an incident. I kukuma slowed down an walked behind them to hear d full gist.
It was more like a scam story. A certain man walked up to a Landlord in our area and requested to rent his apartment for 2 months, with the excuse that he was traveling to Canada and just came to Lagos for the Visa Processing.. They agreed on 150K.
The man paid and took ownership of the apartment.He then went out to Vendors in town and negotiated to buy expensive items on lease. With installment payment plans.. He was said to have collected home appliance worth N50,000,000 from various vendors.
He then took them all to the apartment one by one to build trust. At least once they know he lives there, they can easily come around and pack their stuffs if he defaults, these people didn’t know what would hit them was going to be deadlier than Tsunami.
As agreed with the Landlord, the man packed out even earlier than expected… Left with all the items, of which he had not finished the payment..and the Landlord was so happy to have struck a better deal He immediately rented out the apartment to another family.
One by one, the creditors began to come in and same story was relieved to them.. Some fainted, some threatened hell fire …. To cut the long story short, Baba Ijebu was arrested alongside the new tenant.. You know Naija now… #POLICE no wan hear wuen
They were only saved after a Landlord intervened. He is a legal practitioner and took up the case. But sincerely speaking. I wonder how some people feel at rest knowing fully well their victims would suffer. I guess it all centers on lack of conscience. This is bad #dojon
It was more like a scam story. 🙆 A certain man walked up to a Landlord in our area and requested to rent his apartment for 2 months, with the excuse that he was traveling to Canada 🍁 and just came to Lagos for the Visa Processing.. They agreed on 150K.
— Diary of a Jobless Nigerian Youth (@wenogetjob) May 15, 2018
How a middle-aged man died after withdrawing N100,200 from the bank will shock you
What could have taken the life of a middle-aged man, identified only as Muyibi, who collapsed and died in a commercial cab in the Ojota area of Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro reports that Muyibi boarded the cab after withdrawing money from a United Bank for Africa branch in the Ogudu area. Then the driver had turned to to take his fee from Muyibi when he realized the man had become motionless. After reaching the terminus, a resident told Punch’s correspondent that the driver alighted from the cab to slightly push Muyibi, who was cold.
The resident, who did not want to be identified, said,
“The driver had picked some other passengers along the way, and they had all paid and dropped off at their various bus stops.
“When the victim did not respond when they got to the terminus, the driver parked the cab to rouse him, but he was cold.
The driver raised the alarm, which drew the attention of commuters and passersby to the scene. People checked him and discovered that the man was dead.”
Policemen from the Ogudu division were said to have been alerted to the incident. The driver’s vehicle was impounded just like that, while the man’s body was deposited in a morgue.
A source person at the terminus who spoke with Punch newspaper confirmed the incident, saying:
“It happened around 3pm on Friday. The man went to withdraw some money in UBA. The Ogudu Divisional Police Officer was compassionate; she pitied the cab driver, who had become jittery.
Although the man was not detained, his cab was impounded at the station pending when the deceased’s family would show up,” he added.
Lagos state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, said the police recovered N100,200 from the victim’s bag.
“The man was on his way to Ojota when he collapsed and died. We recovered the sum of N100,200 from his bag.
He also had a phone, which had a new SIM card. There is no contact on the phone and nobody has called him. We have a lead as to where he could be living.
His body has been deposited in a morgue for autopsy.”
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