A source from Microsoft's Cloud and AI team shared some thoughts with Avionics regarding the recently announced collaboration with Volocopter. (Photo courtesy of Volocopter)
Microsoft recently initiated a collaboration with Volocopter, an urban air mobility company, to develop an aerospace cloud system in Microsoft Azure. A spokesperson for Microsoft shared some additional insights following the company’s May 17 announcement with Avionics in an emailed interview. The two companies plan to continue working closely together, beyond the current focus on developing an aerospace cloud system, to meet other emerging needs of the industry.
The current collaboration aims to use Azure to enable Volocopter’s digital platform, VoloIQ, as a flight support system for Volocopter’s urban air mobility (UAM) services. “Microsoft sees the potential that a secure, robust, and efficient cloud platform could offer aerospace and urban air mobility (UAM) operators,” according to Microsoft’s representative. “We look forward to working with Volocopter [to] connect their UAM ecosystem—including commercial scheduling, flight planning, booking services, and more—into one integrated set of services with Azure.”
Volocopter has developed three aircraft models, all electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. In addition to the VoloDrone and VoloCity, the company has also created a four-passenger eVTOL called the VoloConnect that just performed its first flight in May.
The teams from Microsoft and Volocopter have worked together since 2020, when Lufthansa Industry and Volocopter partnered to explore using VoloIQ with Microsoft Azure for autonomous vehicles. That same year, Volocopter also announced the selection of Azure as its core digital UAM operations cloud computing infrastructure.
The new collaboration to develop an aerospace cloud system in Microsoft Azure “builds on our initial announcement in 2020 [and] expands our collaboration with Volocopter,” shared Microsoft’s spokesperson. “The system will address the emerging cloud computing requirements for eVTOLs, urban air mobility (UAM), and autonomous aviation.”
As participants in the rapidly evolving aerospace industry, Microsoft and Volocopter will continue to work closely together to evaluate enterprise needs, the source explained, and to support their customers.
Once the VoloIQ digital platform is primed for commercial use, Microsoft Azure will provide support for the platform and for the company’s transition to autonomous operations, according to Microsoft’s spokesperson. “Utilizing Azure, the VoloIQ Aerospace Cloud will be a new solution for the aviation industry, and a key enabler for autonomous flights in the future of UAM operations,” they wrote.
Microsoft Azure was recently chosen by American Airlines as its “preferred cloud platform” for airport taxiing decisions, access to flight operational data, and other airline applications. According to the announcement, American Airlines hopes to eventually use the new cloud computing capabilities to optimize every single aspect of the customer experience and all airline operations.