Volocopter, one of the key contenders in the emerging urban air mobility industry, has drawn investment from automotive memory supplier Micron Technology as part of its Series C funding round.
The investment, which was conducted through Micron’s strategic funding arm Micron Ventures, will help Volocopter move towards commercialisation of its autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOL), which are designed to function as on-demand air taxis in cities.
“Volocopter is an exciting company that’s well-positioned to revolutionise the mobility and transportation market and contribute to building a sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation infrastructure,” said René Hartner, vice president of Corporate Business Development at Micron Technology.
“Micron’s investment in Volocopter aligns with our view of the critical role that memory and storage solutions play in enabling the breakthrough capabilities needed for autonomous vehicles and edge computing.”
The news follows a previous announcement in September that Volocopter had raised €50m in the same round, which was led by Geely, owner of Volvo, with additional investment from Daimler.
Vote of confidence in Volocopter urban air mobility plans
The nature of the investors in this round sheds light on the rapidly accelerating market interest in the emerging urban air mobility industry, which sees Volocopter jostle for attention among fellow heavy hitters that include Lilium and EHang.
With technology challenges that include the need to develop an entire ecosystem to support the safe operation of eVTOL air taxis, Volocopter needs to find solutions across hardware, network connectivity and infrastructure support, and its clear from its investors that multiple industries see significant market potential for the technology.
Geely’s involvement indicates enthusiasm from the ground-based automotive industry to diversify into the air – and suggests that claims of future high demand for urban air mobility in increasingly crowded and congested cities is not exaggerated.
Daimler’s involvement, meanwhile, gives Volocopter access to solutions for premium ride-hailing, while Micron will provide access to memory solutions that will help it make its autonomous vehicles a commercial reality.
“We’re proud to have Micron partner with us as we execute on our bold vision to bring urban air mobility to life,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter.
“Volocopter helps megacities transform their mobility infrastructure toward a more sustainable future. We aim to offer affordable, autonomous, on-demand air taxi services to transport people in megacities — all for the price of a taxi ride and with significant time savings.”
Volocopter Singapore tests bring commercialisation closer
While not yet in a position to commercialise in Europe, in part due to regulatory barriers, Germany based Volocopter has been making headway in the Asian market via Singapore.
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The startup has been conducting tests in the city, with support from the Singapore Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Economic Development Board.
This has seen the company’s prototype eVTOL tested in the city, most recently with a manned trial on Tuesday of this week.
This saw a 2X model of the eVTOL flown a distance of 1.5km across Singapore’s Marina Bay, at an average cruising height of 40m, with the journey lasting for around two minutes.
“The flight today in Singapore was the most advanced Volocopter flight yet and the piloted flight was as stable as ever. At the same time, we are showcasing a prototype of our full-scale VoloPort Infrastructure, allowing for a realistic demonstration of air taxi boarding and maintenance services,” said Reuter after the flight.
“Never before have people been this close to experiencing what Urban Air Mobility in the city of tomorrow will feel like.”