AviationIs it a bird? Is it a giant insect? No, it’s the new air taxi, which will soon change the way we travel.

Flying taxis are about to take off in Southeast Asia

Joby Aviation’s eVTOL could soon be flying around South-east Asia.
Joby Aviation’s eVTOL could soon be flying around South-east Asia.

They look kinda scary, something like a giant insect from outer space.

And they’re coming to a street near you. In Singapore. In Seoul. And probably, Kuching too.

eVTOLs – electric vertical take-off and landing craft – are emerging from development stage to full-scale prototypes, ready for volume production with the financial support of companies like Japanese car manufacturer Toyota and ride share outfit, Uber.

With a maximum range of 241 kilometres, a top speed of 321 km/h, and a low noise profile that will allow it to access built-up areas, piloted aircraft are designed to make convenient, emissions-free air travel an option for everyone.

AirAsia plans to lease at least 100 of Vertical Aerospace's VX4 eVTOL aircraft and deploy them for urban air mobility services in South-east Asian cities, while Japanese airline ANA has partnered California-based aviation startup Joby to launch a flying taxi service from airports to city centres.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s leading telecommunications company and Joby Aviation are developing an all-electric, five-seat aircraft, will work together to introduce emissions-free aerial ridesharing services to cities and communities across South Korea.

Joe Ben Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said, “With more than 42 million people living in urban areas, South Korea offers a remarkable opportunity for Joby to make air travel a part of daily life, helping people to save time while reducing their carbon footprint.”

Voloport Marina Bay will be part of an air mobility network
Voloport Marina Bay will be part of an air mobility network

In Singapore, air taxi pioneers, Germany’s Volocopter and the UK’s Skyports, plan to launch commercial air taxi services with up to 20 air taxis, beginning in two years’ time with flights around Marina Bay and Sentosa.

Beyond that, cross-border air taxi trips to Indonesia and Malaysia are planned.

Christian Bauer, Volocopter's chief commercial officer, said that the service will be affordable to the general public. He wants Singapore and Paris to be the first cities its commercial air taxis are flown in.

Volocopters urban air taxi, VoloCity, has a range of 35km and a speed of 90kmh, while its four-seater model, VoloConnect, can travel at 180kmh over 100km.

"We believe that Singapore will be a flagship nation for this type of technology and be suitable for us to then scale it to other nations and cities across South-east Asia," Bauer said.

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