The futuristic $500-billion Neom city has joined forces with Volocopter, a pioneer of urban air mobility, to set up a new venture that will design, implement, and operate the world’s first bespoke public vertical mobility system within the upcoming sustainable development in the kingdom.
Air taxi and vertical logistics services will be fully integrated with the overall multi-modal and zero-emission public transit system in Neom.
As per the deal, the joint venture will be the sole operator of initial public transit routes across Neom, while enabling an open eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) ecosystem for vertical mobility services including logistics, emergency response and tourism.
Neom will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations.
Neom has already placed a confirmed order of 15 Volocopter aircraft to commence initial flight operations within the next two to three years.
“In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the centre of the equation. 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,” remarked its CEO Nadhmi Al Nasr. “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.”
Neom indicated that its collaboration with Volocopter will lead the design and development of a truly three-dimensional public transportation system, 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 5 VoloDrone logistics aircraft to support early activation of flight operations.
The JV will scale up its activities from the beginning of 2022 to incubate urban air mobility (UAM) in the region and seed a vertical mobility ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Neom Tech and Digital Company, a unit of Neom, have entered into an agreement with Arqit Quantum, a major provider of unique quantum encryption Platform-as-a-Service, to build and trial the ‘Cognitive City’ quantum security system.
This trial will see the two organisations develop new software capable of defending cognitive cities against cyber-attacks from the most advanced computers to emerge in coming years.
The transformational quantum system will be built and tested at Neom – which is not just a ‘smart’ city that uses tech ad hoc, but one built from the ground up, with AI woven into its fabric, that monitors the city’s use.
Pending a successful trial in Neom during the first half of 2022, the system could be exported to other cognitive cities around the world, offering billions of users a highly secure means to authenticate, identify and secure all forms of devices while fully guaranteeing their privacy.
Arqit’s clients include British Telecom, Sumitomo Corporation, the UK Government, the US Government, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell, among others.