The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Microsoft Will Develop Cloud-based Platform for Urban Air Mobility Operations

Microsoft and Volocopter are developing a cloud-based system through its Azure platform to support the data management needs of advanced air mobility applications, including the operation of eVTOL aircraft. In a May 17 announcement, Volocopter said it will use the system for its VoloIQ platform, which will manage all aspects of planned passenger and cargo operations with its VoloCity, VoloConnect, and VoloDrone eVTOL aircraft.

Initially, the VoloCity and the larger VoloConnect aircraft will operate with a pilot on board, but once regulatory and stakeholder acceptance requirements have been met, these will transition to autonomous operations. Volocopter says that the new Microsoft platform for aerospace will support this transition, while the VoloDrone freighter will operate autonomously from its entry into service. The system will be made available to other advanced air mobility companies.

Volocopter’s plans for commercial urban air mobility (UAM) services are based on using VoloIQ as the core operating system. The German company plans to use the Microsoft Cloud/Azure system to securely connect functions including trip bookings, scheduling, flight planning, and monitoring, network planning, vehicle data logging and analysis, and creating airspace digital twins.

“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 vice president for cloud and artificial intelligence. “Working in collaboration with Volocopter, we will start to build the foundation for a commercial model for the aerospace cloud.”

Volocopter and Microsoft have been working together at least since 2010 when Volocopter and Lufthansa Industry Solutions announced plans to use Azure at the early stages of developing VoloIQ. As well as providing digital transparency for pilots and passengers, the platform is expected to support aircraft maintenance and access to the infrastructure required by UAM operations.

Microsoft is one of several strategic investors in Volocopter. The company has raised €579 million in equity from backers also including Chinese automotive group Geely, German carmaker Mercedes-Benz, Intel, BlackRock, and WP Investment.