Dubai: ‘World’s first flying taxis’ to make their way in 2030

By Meghna Murali

With machines and humanoids making their way into the limelight, the city of Dubai has come up with yet another fascinating invention—crewless flying taxis. Dubbed as Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), the un-crewed two-seater drone underwent its first test drive earlier this month. The test flight was held near the Jumeirah Beach Park. 

The unique Autonomous Air Taxi

The AAT could revolutionise the mobility in metropolitan cities. The prototype version of the AAT is environment-friendly and is powered by clean electricity and has low noise levels. The AAT measures about two meters in height and about 7 meters in diameter. With a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, the AAT has a maximum air speed of 100 km/h and a cruising speed of 50 km/h. The AAT has 18 rotors and 9 sets of rechargeable batteries. Each battery takes two hours to charge completely. The Air taxi is also equipped with optional emergency parachutes and multiple redundancies in all its critical components. According to the government of Dubai, the charging period of the batteries will be ‘significantly reduced’ in the final version of the AAT.

With no pilots operating the AAT, Dubai plans to launch the air taxi through the invention of an App. The app would enable people to book their routes and receive booking timings. One would type in the location and the routes are automatically dispatched to the AAT. Unlike drones, the AAT does not need a person to control it. The multi-copter is preprogrammed from point A to point B.

Volocopter—the company behind the AAT

The German company, Volocopter, has been developing electrically powered multi-copters for transportation purposes. The company aims to provide environment-friendly air transport. The incorporation of flying taxis in metropolises can decrease the existing mobility crisis. The air transport is extremely flexible and offers high safety to its passengers.

Volocopter received a provisional licensing for a two-seater Volocopter by the German Aviation in 2016. In 2017, the aviation entered into an agreement with RTA Dubai over the launching of AAT.

The future of AAT

The transportation authorities plan to integrate the Air taxi with local transport systems such as the Dubai taxi, Dubai tram, public taxis, and buses. The government plans to launch the taxis in the next five years. In the five years, the road transportation authority will collaborate with the UAE Aviation Authority to formulate the rules and regulations. These rules will include the policies governing the certification of the aircraft. A panel of specialists in the RTA will define the boundaries of the routes and corridors. They will also work on designing the take-off and landing points of the AAT.

Dubai claims to convert its existing means of transport into autonomous ones by 2050.

Featured Image Source: DVIDSHUB via Visual Hunt / CC BY