Volocopter, a German firm developing a two-seat, autonomously operated VoloCity aircraft, has attracted €87 million (US$113 million) in investment from logistics group DB Schenker as part of its Series C funding round, AINonline reported.
The move, announced on February 21, takes the total raised by the German company to €122 million ($159 million).
The company intends to operate aircraft itself on urban routes of up around 35 kilometers and at speeds of up to 110 kph. It is also developing a cargo-carrying version called the VoloDrone, the report said.
Volocopter says it will complete type certification by the end of 2022 or early in 2023.
Other new investors include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, MS&AD Ventures, and Translink Capital (including Japan Airlines and Sompo Japan Insurance). Existing investor Lukasz Gadowski and European venture capital group Btov also supported the current funding round, the report said.
Chinese automotive group Geely and its German subsidiary Daimler invested in the Series A funding round.
“We are convinced that the Volocopter technology has the potential to bring transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers,” commented DB Schenker CEO Jochen Thewes. “DB Schenker has already tested autonomous and electrical vehicles in several innovation projects and in actual operations. By integrating the VoloDrone into our supply chain of the future we will be able to serve our clients’ demand for fast, remote, emission-neutral deliveries.”
Last year, Volocopter conducted a public demonstration of a prototype aircraft in Singapore and also unveiled its Voloport concept for a passenger terminal.
On February 18, Volocopter announced it is partnering with consumer app provider Grab to conduct a joint feasibility study into starting urban air mobility services in Southeast Asia’s largest cities, the report said.
The study, which is due to be complete within the next few months, will identify the most suitable cities and routes for launching air taxi services and explore prospects for conducting flight trials, the report said.
Singapore-based Grab’s consumer app provides ground-based taxi rides and deliveries of food and packages, as well as digital payments and other financial services. Since it launched in 2012, the app has provided more than four billion rides and now offers services in 339 cities across Southeast Asia, the report said.
Volocopter also has not ruled out partnerships with other app providers, such as Uber.
“Generally speaking, it is our vision to be customer-facing and own as many customer touchpoints as possible,” the company said. “We are open to all kinds of cooperation. Our ultimate goal is to provide the best user experience and greatest value-add in our customers’ lives. This will guide our decisions on potential future partnerships.”