Volocopter and avionics supplier Diehl Aerospace are now cooperating on the development of an optical splitter that provides control information to the VoloCity air taxi’s 18 rotors to complement the flight control system and other components for battery management.

Diehl Aerospace, a joint venture between Diehl Aviation and Thales, has already developed the flight control computer for the VoloCity, including the primary and backup control computers.

In contrast to conventional fly-by-wire control systems, the electrical signals from the flight control computer are translated into optical signals and consequently controlled optoelectronically. Instead of electrical signals via copper wires, light signals are now transmitted by optical fibre to control commands.

‘Fly-By-Light’ control is immune to electromagnetic interference from cell phones or transmission towers, a key safety criterion in view of VoloCity’s planned low altitude flights in cities.

Diehl is also developing a data concentration unit (DCU) that collects optical signals from 18 rotors from an optical interface and converts them into digital avionics signals providing the pilot with feedback on the status of engine speed and temperature.

Diehl Aerospace CEO Florian Maier said: “We are excited to further expand our partnership with Volocopter, an innovative pioneer in the UAM market, in bringing our many years of experience and expertise in flight control systems to the table.”

In addition to the flight control system, Diehl will supply sub-components for the VoloCity battery management system to monitor the aircraft’s nine battery packs, which are replaced and recharged after the flight.

During the flight, the pilot receives relevant information on remaining energy and control of the power supply.

With its latest technical developments for Volocopter’s VoloCity, Diehl claims it is making a decisive contribution to ensuring the necessary safety and reliability for air taxis and cargo drones of the future.

In November 2021, Airbus signed a trilateral agreement with Thales and Diehl Aerospace to jointly develop the flight control computers of its CityAirbus eVTOL aircraft, NextGen, which will combine computing power with lightweight design and high safety standards.

Diehl Aerospace first signed a contract to develop and produce primary and back-up flight control computers for Volocopter’s VoloCity eVTOL aircraft in May 2020, marking its entry into urban air mobility.