Volkswagen Group China has unveiled its first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) passenger drone prototype. The passenger drone is called the V.MO and is also nicknamed the ‘Flying Tiger’ due to its distinctive black and gold livery.
The prototype concept is based on existing autonomous driving solutions and battery technology for zero-emission aviation. The existing functional prototype measures 11.2 meters in length, has a span width of 10.6 meters, and features eight rotors for vertical lift and two propellers for horizontal flight.
It is designed in collaboration with UK design consultancy tangerine and engineered in collaboration with Chinese general aviation manufacturer Sunward.
Volkswagen Group China already launched the Vertical Mobility project in 2020 to explore the next generation of mobility solutions, including the urban air mobility (UAM) market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace.
The company will carry out the initial flight tests of the Flying Tiger later this year to optimize the concept. An improved prototype will undergo further advanced test flights by late summer 2023. Volkswagen Group China stated that the final version of the automated eVTOL could eventually carry four passengers plus luggage over a distance of up to 200 km (124 miles).
“Through this pilot project, we are bringing Volkswagen’s long tradition of precision engineering, design, and innovation to the next level by developing a premium product that will serve the vertical mobility needs of our future tech-savvy Chinese customers,” said Dr. Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China. “The launch of this stunning validation model – the V.MO – is the first of many remarkable milestones on our exciting journey towards urban air travel. Our long-term aim is to industrialize this concept and, like a ‘Flying Tiger,’ break new ground in this emerging and fast-evolving new mobility market.”
Urban air mobility is a fast-emerging market that aims to utilize air space for short- and medium-distance connections, especially above and between large cities. It will play a significant role in the future of urban and intercity transportation in its congested megacities, says the company.