Maharashtra prepares for flying taxis: all you need to know

by Elton Gomes

Maharashtra could soon become the first Indian state to get flying taxi’s, as the state government has approved the Centre’s plans for a drone taxi service for Mumbai, though it comes with a few additional ground rules.

According to a report in the Hindu, the Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu delivered a presentation to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in August. During the presentation, Prabhu elaborated on the drone taxi policy and asked Fadnavis’ government to submit a report.

What has the state government asked for

Responding to Prabhu, the Maharashtra government has asked that more space be given. It has also asked for details with respect to height, high-rises, and charging stations for the battery-operated drone taxis. The state government approved all other aspects including passenger, cargo, and medical services within the drone.

The Central government released this policy after receiving advise from Uber, and the policy will govern the operations of drone taxis in the country. The government hopes that these flying taxis will help in resolving traffic woes in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Delhi, as per the report by the Hindu.

According to the newly created Development Plan 2034, any building that breaches the 200 metre mark in height will be allowed to have a helipad or landing facilities. On the other hand, the smaller buildings will be allowed to accommodate the smaller two-seater drones.

India shortlisted for Uber’s flying taxi service

Earlier in August, Uber said that it had shortlisted India to launch its flying taxi service. After evaluating countries across the globe, Uber Elevate — Uber’s aerial taxi arm — announced that it had shortlisted Japan, India, Australia, Brazil, and France.

Uber proposed to launch a demonstration of these flying taxis in several cities by 2020. It said that paid flying taxis could begin by 2023. Last year, Uber named Dallas and Los Angeles as its first two launch cities.

“Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru are some of the most congested cities in the world, where travelling even a few kilometers can take over an hour. Uber Air offers tremendous potential to help create a transportation option that goes over congestion, instead of adding to it,” Uber said in a statement, IANS reported.

“We see much potential in flying cars, and we anticipate that flying cars can be used not only to help solve traffic congestion in urban areas, but it will also help with increase mobility between city centres and remote islands and mountainous areas, promote tourism in Japan as well as enhance disaster relief operations,” Daisaku Hiraki, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan, said, as per IANS.

Uber said further, “The Uber Elevate team is now inviting conversations with stakeholders across major cities in these countries, and will announce the chosen Uber Air international city within the next six months,” according to IANS.

India could soon have Make in India flying taxis

Amidst news of the launch of flying taxis in India, IIT-Kanpur has been busy developing its own drone taxis. In May 2018, IIT-Kanpur signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) worth Rs 15 crore with VTOL Aviation India Pvt Ltd, an Indian private aviation company.

As per the MoU, IIT-Kanpur will be building operational prototypes, which could be used as flying taxis. More than 100 researchers from the varsity will be working towards developing a fully-functional prototype, and the project is estimated to be ready by 2023.

Under the deal, researchers will initially conduct a feasibility test to identify key technological areas where they would work, while the remaining project would be completed in the next five years.

“We will establish proof of concept and identify the key technology areas. There will be over a 100 students working on this in the coming years,” the Print quoted Ajoy Ghosh, the head of the Aerospace Engineering and the Flight Lab at IIT-Kanpur, as saying.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

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