There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia is one step ahead of most other countries in terms of technological innovation. It is here that they are trying to implement the most daring engineering and infrastructure projects. The innovations concern not only ground transport communications but also air transportation, including vertical takeoff and landing aircraft – the eVTOL system.
It is not surprising that this ambitious project will be implemented in the NEOM metropolis. His management has planned a partnership with a pioneer in the field of urban air transport – the German company Volocopter, which has a portfolio of over 1000 flight tests around the world. Its customers include both government organizations and the private sector.
What is the eVTOL system?
Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) – Aircraft that use the potential of electricity to float in the air and take off and land in a vertical position. The concept of a flying vehicle eVTOL originated in 2009 based on the innovative technology DEP (Distributed Electric Propulsion), which was developed by NASA specialists.
The know-how was quickly picked up by specialists from large firms engaged in mechanical engineering. Among the pioneers of this industry are the Italian AugustaWestland Project Zero, the German Volocopter, and the American Opener BlackFly. Since 2014, a real race has started to conquer the eVTOL technology and its massive use in the field of urban transportation.
Considering the growing high-tech market in Saudi Arabia, primarily associated with the implementation of the NEOM project, it is not surprising that the Volocopter management is interested in working with the Saudis. It became known that an order has been made for 15 Volocopter flying vehicles, which will enter service over the next few years.
The partnership between metropolis NEOM and Volocopter
NEOM Executive Director Nadmi Al-Nasr said: “Urban infrastructure design for the 21st century is focused on citizen mobility. Through our partnership with Volocopter, we will show the world that the NEOM is the ideal platform for the rapid adoption of urban air travel. We set ourselves the task of becoming a global laboratory for the implementation of advanced developments in the field of mobility.”
Saudi Arabia and Volocopter cooperation will mean close dialogue based on the development and design of a truly three-dimensional public transport system based on eVTOL technology. The joint venture will provide the Neomean company with zero carbon dioxide emissions of goods and passenger transport services.
Florian Lennert, the head of the transport department of the NEOM metropolis, noted that Volocopter is globally recognized as the pioneer of eVTOL and is ideally suited to the ambitious tasks of the neomean society, especially in the field of infrastructure and transport innovations. The knowledge and experience that Volocopter engineers have at their disposal will allow for the successful development and implementation of the eVTOL system at the regional and global levels.
Volocopter commercial director Christian Bauer, commenting on the new partnership, said that entering the NEOM metropolis market would be an exciting journey for all parties to this dialogue. In his opinion, this is a unique opportunity to become an important part of the development and operation of a completely new urban ecosystem from scratch, without any restrictions imposed by the previous infrastructure.
The main stages of implementation of the eVTOL system
NEOM executives and Volocopter representatives initially agreed on an order for 10 VoloCity passenger aircraft and 5 VoloDrone transport aircraft to start working together. Further cooperation will be strengthened from the beginning of 2022 with the aim of creating an ecosystem of urban air services.
Thus, it is planned to connect the central part of THE LINE project with the new urban building OXAGON, as well as to ensure uninterrupted commodity and passenger exchange with other areas of the NEOM metropolis, avoiding large-scale road construction and preserving the unique natural environment.