Next-generation electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Volocopter is teaming up with computing giant Microsoft to ready the operating system upon which its entire range of urban air mobility (UAM) activities will run.
Volocopter announced its strategic partnership with Microsoft as aiming to build the cloud computing requirements that UAM aircraft and operators will need in offering air taxi and other eVTOL services. Once constructed using Microsoft Azure, the platform will support Volocopter’s one-stop-shopping VoloIQ operating system, which will cover most aspects involved in its aerial activities.
Volocopter calls its VoloIQ “the brains behind our eVTOL ecosystem” and is applicable in managing passengers, infrastructure, and air taxi operation. The system’s modular structure allows for a broad series of applications to be added on to form a single, linked data computing and communications chain.
That will unite activities that include booking and e-commerce, commercial scheduling, operational network planning, flight preparations and monitoring, supplying airspace digital twins, and vehicle data logging and analysis.
“Having Microsoft on board as a project partner and investor is proof that the solutions Volocopter creates – like the VoloIQ – are pioneering and hold remarkable market potential,” said Alexander Oelling, Volocopter’s chief digital officer. “We’re proud that Microsoft Azure is the one to provide a secure cloud and thus to ensure safety remains at the forefront of our operations.”
Though description of the concept sounds simple enough – offering a transparent, user-friendly digital resource spanning all relevant operational processes that customers, pilots, operators, and stakeholders can access – the work bringing that to realization will be complex and massive. That effort is made even trickier in it requiring programmers to work with moving targets whose continual evolution – whether in tech or regulatory requirements – will necessitate near constant revision.
“From the newest technologies to regulation, creating solutions to seamlessly address the cloud computing requirements for supporting continued advancements in aviation is a complex endeavor,” said Uli Homann, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of cloud and artificial intelligence. “We certainly see the potential a secure, robust, and efficient cloud platform could offer aerospace and urban air mobility operators. Working in collaboration with Volocopter, we will start to build the foundation for a commercial model for aerospace cloud.”
Volocopter and Microsoft will focus on the initial goal of ensuring Microsoft Azure meets VoloIQ’s requirements for commercial operations. After that, Azure will be developed to permit VoloIQ to support flight and service utilities to Volocopter’s eVTOL UAM craft, as well as Voloport infrastructure and the passengers transiting them.
Volocopter plans to launch air taxi services in 2024 during the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.