Here’s a new entry in the field of urban air mobility. Volkswagen Group China unveiled the V.MO, its first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger drone prototype which is the latest development in its Vertical Mobility project that began in 2020.
The Vertical Mobility project was conceived to explore the next generation of mobility solutions, including urban air mobility and the extension of urban traffic into airspace, said Volkswagen. Nicknamed the “Flying Tiger” for its black and gold livery, its colour scheme was chosen to commemorate its launch in the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese lunar calendar.
According to Volkswagen, the V.MO is built based on existing autonomous driving solutions and battery technology for zero-emissions mobility. It employs eight rotors for vertical lift and two for horizontal flight, its X-wing configuration measures 11.2 m long and has a wingspan of 10.6 m.
The final, future iteration of the V.MO will be able to carry four passengers with luggage, over a distance of up to 200 km; several test flights have been scheduled to take place this year, and an improved prototype will undergo further, advanced test flights by the third quarter of 2023, said Volkswagen.
Volkswagen Group China has formed a team of experts local to China, who are supported by Chinese partners including Hunan Sunward Technology, which is a subsidiary of Hunan-based manufacturing group Sunward which specialises in the development of aviation products and its sale and services, and is a market leader in the light sport aircraft industry.
In terms of automotive manufacturers entering urban air mobility, Hyundai has also entered the segment with its brand Supernal for a future line-up of electrically powered air mobility vehicles, and Supernal’s first commercial flight has been planned for 2028.
In contrast with the Volkswagen V.MO prototype that employs separate rotors for lift and propulsion, the Hyundai SA-1 that forms the basis of what will be in the Supernal air fleet is a four-rotor aircraft of a tilt-rotor configuration. The SA-1 eVTOL craft is rated for a cruising speed of 290 km/h at altitudes from 300 m to 600 m above ground, with a flight range of up to 100 km at a time.
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