Electric flying taxis in works for 2024 Paris Olympics

Originally published at: Electric flying taxis in works for 2024 Paris Olympics | Boing Boing


Is it supposedly safer than a regular helicopter?

It doesn’t seem to take up any less space :confused:


Yay for electric, but boo for not using this event to bolster/boost public transportation in the city. It should be baked into an Olympic contract.


More jobs! Hire up a fleet of pedicabs to keep with the Olympic spirit!


Sure, these “flying taxis” don’t currently work, with multiple major unresolved issues, but they’ve got, what, a whole year to fix all the problems they’ve been working on for decades? No problem! Also, it’s not like they’re doing their first real testing as a mass roll-out in a dense urban area that will wildly multiply any potential issues and oh, yeah, that’s exactly what they’re doing, isn’t it?


“It will be a total new experience for the people,” said Hoke, Volocopter’s CEO.

“Dying screaming” is a new experience for most people; and certainly a once in lifetime experience.


I’d much rather see them revive the proud tradition of using small airships for getting about town.


Given the number of scathing reports about e-scooter piles blocking pedestrian traffic and scooter users generally occupying the nuisance-to-menace continuum; I’d be a little less sanguine about drawing that analogy when my product is markedly more demanding in terms of space occupied and safety-criticality of collision avoidance.


They actually are a lot smaller than a helicopter, and they don’t need a huge safety bubble around them to land like a helicopter does.

The other big advantage is their simplicity. It’s a battery system and a handful of electric motors. Little to maintain and little to go wrong. Helicopters are immensely complicated beasts requiring a team of technicians with years of training to maintain, not to mention they are incredibly loud and use huge amounts of fuel. They also make a hurricane everywhere they land and take off. Helicopter piloting is also extremely difficult. So difficult that not everyone can do it. Much like drumming, it requires mastering completely independent limb control, and every control input on a helicopter modifies multiple flight parameters. Going faster also makes you go up. Going sideways also makes you go down, etc. It takes years of training to get halfway decent at it, and it’s still dangerous.

These oversized drones don’t have any of those issues.

All that said, that doesn’t make this a good idea right now. The technology is not ready for more than maybe one or two demonstration flights. The idea that they’ll be shuttling people around town like an Uber during the Olympics is ludicrous. Crewed electric multi rotors are at least a decade, maybe two, away from that.


The Volocopter is one of the aircraft available to fly in the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Assuming they accurately modeled the flight characteristics the thing is ridiculously easy (and somewhat boring) to fly. Good qualities for a real-world aircraft to have, but not especially entertaining to fly in a simulator.

Making it fall out of the sky is actually pretty difficult. You have to switch off quite a few of its 18 motors. I don’t think that the simulator models the limited battery life though.


What does director James Cameron have to say about this? He has one year to respond.


Looks good on the pamphlets, i think that is about all we’ll be seeing of this.


I dunno. After the stuff I’ve seen folks doing in places like Italy after the pandemic – driving cars down stairways and stuff – I’m not so sure. :man_shrugging:


Even if they are somehow able to solve all the critical safety and engineering issues for these things, one problem I haven’t seen anyone even begin to address is just how much noise a fleet of oversized drone-like aircraft would contribute to an urban setting, especially if they ever became a permanent presence.

Ever try to relax in a park when someone was flying a drone nearby? Multiply that sound by some orders of magnitude and imagine you can hear multiple aircraft of that kind all over your city, day and night. The collective psychological cost would be immense and the only benefit would be a handful of wealthy folks getting around a bit faster.


That’s the unspoken superpower of PID multirotors. The computer is doing all the work, so it’s pretty much just “up or down, and point stick where you want to go”. That’s in stark contrast to any other VTOL aircraft, which all require various heroic skill sets to not die, depending on the technology used to achieve said VTOL.


A woman caught her bag in a door causing Metro chaos

Even the Paris 2024 site does not fill with confidence

What could possibly go wrong with delivering helicopters safely and on time?

Mind you, 2012 was dogged by doubters and generally achieved.


Tell you what, sharpen those unguarded rotor blades a bit, and you’ve got yourself a flying gulliotine.


Time to break out the steel parasols!


That’s a very valid concern. I’ve looked into what is happening with at least 2 of the major companies working to develop and certify these eVTOL aircraft for commercial use. Noise control is a very significant part of designing the rotors and housings. FAA certification is no easy task, and safety and reliability are equally important. Major partnerships with Toyota and Stellantis (among others) are in place for manufacturing and development. I think we could see them being tested for things like airport shuttle runs of up to 150 miles within another year or two. They will NOT be pilotless for a long time, if ever.

But even an unusually quiet and efficient aircraft is bound to produce much more noise and consume much more energy than a well-built ground vehicle of comparable carrying capacity. It’s an idea that comes with a whole lot of downsides for society at large while providing benefit to a select few.