Intel did not disappoint the audience at CES 2018. During his opening keynote speech, CEO Brian Krzanich showed off Intel technology with everything from a weird and wonderful “digital band” to their now-signature Shooting Star light show (new and improved for indoor use – and setting a Guinness Book world record for the most drones flown simultaneously by a single pilot indoors.) But for the drone industry, there was a clear highlight: the first ever North American demonstration of the Volocopter.
The Volocopter is the German-based passenger drone that has made history as the world’s first drone taxi, implemented in Dubai last summer. While “Urban Air Mobility” has become a new catchphrase for the drone industry, the Volocopter brings the concept into the realm of possible – or maybe even likely.
Powered by Intel technology, the Volocopter Is “the first fully electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, designed for passenger transport,” says Intel. “The Intel® Flight Control Technology used in the Volocopter is based on the intelligence found in the Intel Falcon™ 8+ drone used for inspection, surveying, and mapping, showing the powerful intersection of data and autonomous technology. The Intel flight control technology analyzes environmental data with highly redundant sensors and is able to compensate for certain flight malfunctions. It can also accommodate for certain wind gusts and shifts in the center of gravity to help stabilize the position of the aircraft.”
The demonstration at CES served to highlight not only the capabilities of the Volocopter, but the limitations that regulations here in the US will impose upon its implementation. The drone was demonstrated behind a cage and tethered to the ground for the full extent of its flight. Still, seeing the aircraft lift on on stage brought greater realism to the reports that Volocopter has flown over 400 times in Germany and overseas – and with Dubai’s drone taxi project to serve as proof of concept, the idea no longer seems beyond the realm of possibility.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.