A German startup is gearing up to launch this flying taxi in 2018

Rebecca Smith
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, more of a flying taxi actually
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, more of a flying taxi actually (Source: e-volo, by Nikolay Kazakov)

Flying taxis could be propelled to the forefront of methods of transportation... as early as next year.

So says a German startup E-Volo which has been showing off its snappily named Volocopter 2x this week. The company is aiming to test the flying machine in taxi pilot projects in 2018.

Read more: Look out London! A driverless shuttle has arrived in the capital

The Volocopter 2x is an 18-rotor electric cross between a drone and a helicopter, featuring two seats and a joystick controlled by a pilot. It also has rechargeable batteries.

"After six years of development E-Volo is presenting the Volocopter 2x, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft powered purely by electricity and capable of carrying two passengers," the company said.

E-Volo said the Volocopter 2x was being developed for approval by German authorities and anyone with a particular license will be able to fly one. So next year, the first models with the special permit - a sport pilot license for multicopter - are set to be used as flying taxis in pilot projects.

With certification granted, the Volocopter 2x should be ready for take off in the German air sports market.

It's aiming to get a commercial registration for its aircraft to allow for the transportation of passengers, and E-Volo said it's also developing a four-seater with the hope of getting it approved by the US Federal Aviation Authority, as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency.

And, the firm said the technology will also allow for remote controlled "and even autonomous flights", so a driverless taxi for two could be on the horizon shortly.

Firms have been focusing on driverless technology as a key element of future transportation; earlier this week a driverless shuttle took to a path in Greenwich to be trialled by the public, while Daimler and Bosch announced a tie-up to work on driverless taxis.

Here's how the electric air taxi looks:

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

Read more: Daimler and Bosch announce tie-up to bring driverless taxis to the roads

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