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.
Bullying forces 10-year-old Boy with colostomy bag to commit suicide
10-year-old Seven Bridges, who suffers digestion related health condition that means he has to wear a colostomy bag, has committed suicide after he was ridiculed in school for it. Seven Bridges from Kentucky, hanged himself at home on Saturday while his mother went shopping for groceries.
Now you see how serious depression can be.
Seven Bridges mum, Tami Charles, said she found him hanging when she returned from shopping at about 10:30am inside a closet.
Seven Bridges was born with a rare bowel condition that requires a colostomy bag attached to his stomach for collecting feces which normally goes through the anus. He was often bullied in school and in buses when the feces smell. Tami , his mother said her son’s school, Kerrick Elementary failed him and she and the boy’s father, Donnie Bridges, plan to take legal action against the child’s school district, Jefferson County Public Schools.
Boyfriend chops girlfriend’s head because her food was tasteless
If you want to read the sad story of a frustrated man who beheaded his girlfriend because the cabbage soup she made was tasteless, stay on this page.
The anonymous man also tried to take his own life afterwards, but it failed.
Mixed feelings – 😶.
The 43-year-old man recently lost his job and took to drinking to hopefully suppres the pain.
Suddenly he became angry when his 47-year-old partner cooked tasteless Shchi (cabbage) soup. He then chopped her head which lead to her death at their home in Kozlovka village, Russia.
Police officers found the body of the dead woman, with her head berated, in Russia, Smolensk region.
The woman’s lover has been detained at the couple’s home and a criminal investigation has been launched according to part 1 article 105 of the Russian criminal code – deliberate murder.
People lived around said that the man was never that aggressive but after he recently lost his job and started drinking, he went bananas.
There have been several cases where job loss can make one take the wrong turn in life and do something unimaginable. That’s why laid off workers need a therapist if any unusable behavior is read.
This is the second case in less than a week in Russia where complaints about bad cooking have resulted in murder.
Linda Ikeji reports that just last week, a woman murdered her husband by stabbing him at least 35 times because he had commented on the food she served their guest.
The husband said that the food she served their guests was lacking salt.
Local Government Chairman kneeling down after he shouted “APC” during PDP campaign rally
Francis Ayagah, Local government chairman of Gwer west local government area in Benue state kneeling down as instructed after he chanted “APC” during a PDP campaign rally.
Don’t put all the blame on Francis Ayagah. He was elected as LG Chairman under the sweeps of APC, but he defected to the umbrella of PDP after power changed hands in Benue state.
Eunice Ortom, wife of Samuel Ortom, Benue state Governor organized a rally to campaign for the re-election of her husband as Gorvenor. Eunice Ortom hails from the local government which Francis Ayagah leads.
Francis Ayagah was called up to the podium to make a speech. Unfortunately for him, he lost track of the political party’s platform he is on.
Report has it that he shouted “Aaaaa Peee Ceeee” twice to a crowd of PDP supporters who couldn’t hold back the disgrace.
Subsequently he was summoned by the leaders of PDP in Benue state and was seen kneeling down.
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