Flying taxis are set to begin operating in Saudi’s Neom megacity following a joint venture (JV) deal signed with German urban air mobility company Volocopter.
Neom and Volocopter have established a JV company to design, implement, and operate what claims will be the “world’s first bespoke” public vertical mobility system for the smart and sustainable regional development in northwest Saudi Arabia.
Initial flight operations
Neom has placed a confirmed order of 15 Volocopter aircraft to commence initial flight operations within the next two- to three years.
Air taxi and vertical logistics services will be fully integrated with the overall multi-modal and zero-emission public transit system in the megacity.
The JV will be the sole operator of initial public transit routes across Neom, while enabling an open electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) ecosystem for vertical mobility services including logistics, emergency response, and tourism.
“We are demonstrating to the world that Neom is the ideal region to implement urban air mobility rapidly and create a fully integrated vertical mobility ecosystem”
“In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the centre of the equation,” said Nadhmi Al-Nasr, chief executive officer at Neom.
“Through this joint venture with Volocopter, we are demonstrating to the world that Neom is the ideal region to implement urban air mobility rapidly and create a fully integrated vertical mobility ecosystem.”
He continued: “Neom is on a mission to become a global living lab for future mobility, and we are very excited to see what the future holds as we grow.”
The collaboration will lead the design and development of a three-dimensional public transportation system, with a view to advancing the technical, regulatory, and infrastructure solutions for eVTOL operations across Neom.
Volocopter and Neom have agreed an initial order of 10 VoloCity passenger and five VoloDrone logistics aircraft to support early activation of flight operations.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation”
The JV plans to scale-up activities from the beginning of 2022 to ‘incubate’ urban air mobility (UAM) in the region and ‘seed’ a vertical mobility ecosystem.
“The partnership with NEOM and the new JV we are creating together is going to be an exciting journey,” added Christian Bauer, chief commercial officer at Volocopter.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation.”
According to Neom, eVTOLs are an essential part of its mobility mission, enabling transportation of people and goods without extensive surface infrastructure. Vertical mobility services will connect Neom’s core urban development, The Line, reimagined industrial city Oxagon and other regional destinations, avoiding intrusive road construction and thus protecting its natural environment.
Neom will be the home and workplace to more than a million residents from around the world. It will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.