German urban air mobility startup Volocopter is partnering with ridesharing and payments startup Grab to launch a joint feasibility study to bring air taxi services to Southeast Asia, Volocopter announced on Tuesday (Feb. 18) in a blog post.
The joint air taxi feasibility study is being done as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore urban air mobility solutions in the region’s megacities.
The feasibility study will examine appropriate municipalities and options for the deployment of air taxis in Southeast Asian cities. Joint flight tests will be studied for best-use cases.
Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said the partnership with Grab is an important move in the “commercialization of Urban Air Mobility” in regions that are overly congested.
Reuter added that the companies will work together to “learn from unprecedented insights into the economic and societal opportunity of launching our services” in Southeast Asia, which is among the “hottest routes.” The collaboration could “eventually extend intermodal mobility to the skies.”
Volocopter was founded in 2011 and is a pioneer in urban air mobility. The startup said it demonstrated in 2011 that electrically powered vertical flight is possible for humans. With flights in Dubai, Las Vegas, Helsinki, Stuttgart and most recently Singapore, the technology is moving toward certification, the company said.
For a demonstration flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay, Volocopter worked with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The startup is certified as a Design Organization by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and has been coordinating with them for commercial operations permitting.
“As a superapp that operates across 339 cities in Southeast Asia, Grab has gathered traffic patterns and customer insights in the region that can help our teams come up with the most innovative mobility solutions to plug the gaps in the transport landscape,” said Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures.
“This partnership will enable Volocopter to further develop urban air mobility solutions that are relevant for Southeast Asian commuters so they can decide on their preferred journey option based on their budgets, time constraints and other needs, in a seamless way,” Yeo said.
Volocopter announced in May that it was teaming up with Skyports to build the first mobile Volo-Port for air taxis. The Volo-Port will be the physical landing pad for electric take-off and landing (eVTOL).