Volocopter partners with Asian ‘SuperApp’ Grab for air-taxi study


German eVTOL pioneer Volocopter has partnered with Southeast Asian delivery, payment, and delivery services app Grab to study the feasibility of air-taxi services across the region.

The two companies will work together to determine the cities in Southeast Asia most suited for commercial air taxi flights, evaluate the best applications for eVTOL aircraft, and to conduct joint flight tests. Volocopter also states that the partnership could extend to “launching services related to urban air mobility” in the future.

A Volocopter spokesperson told Helicopter Investor: “Asia hosts many of the world’s largest and most traffic-ridden cities, so we believe that our product can bring great added value to our customers there. Where this can be the case and on what exact routes, is what we will learn as part of our feasibility study with Grab.”

Volocopter conducts many of its flight tests across Southeast Asia and has established its first Voloport or eVTOL landing area in Singapore. And Grab is the most popular ride-hailing service in several countries in the region – including Singapore.

Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter adds: “This cooperation is another important step towards the commercialisation of Urban Air Mobility in one of the most traffic congested regions of the world.

“Together, we will learn from unprecedented insights into the economic and societal opportunity of launching our services on the hottest routes in the Southeast Asian Market. This collaboration also offers the potential for a much larger cooperation which could eventually extend intermodal mobility to the skies.” 

‘Partnerships bring UAM to life’

This announcement comes shortly after Volocopter partnered with agricultural machinery maker John Deere to develop and showcase a large drone equipped with a John Deere crop sprayer. Volocopter is looking to add more partners down the line.

“We strongly believe in partnerships to bring Urban Air Mobility [UAM] to life,” a Volocopter spokesperson told Helicopter Investor.

“That’s why we are cooperating with the best players in their field such as Skyports for building the take-off and landing infrastructure, but also in the realm of airspace integration. In Germany we are working together with Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt Airport, to learn how air taxis can be integrated into running airports and develop the ground and passenger procedures necessary in this context.”

‘Grabbing’ the opportunity

Grab bills itself as a ‘SuperApp’, combining the delivery of food packages and other transport services with digital payment and additional financial services. On the transport side, Grab has already partnered with Uber to offer its ride-hailing service through the app. Volocopter can make use of traffic data of the 163m registered mobile devices on the Grab app.

Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures, said: “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.

“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.”