Dubai’s new autonomous air taxi makes first successful test flight

With roads being extremely crowded and services such as Uber taking up traffic, newer ways of transport are being looked into. We already know Tesla’s Hyperloop project is going in full swing and there are autonomous vehicles being developed, but Dubai has taken an approach that does not include having to travel by ground. The city has been thinking of going airborne in order to offer a new solution for public transport.

According to The Verge, Dubai has just tested a pilot-less two-seater drone that has been designed to transport people autonomously. The new innovation has been suitably called the Autonomous Air Taxi, or AAT. It promises to be the first self-flying taxi service in the world. It is also eco-friendly and is completely powered by electricity. The prototype was successfully able to fly for 30 minutes with a cruising speed of 50 km/h. The AAT can go as fast as 100km/h as well.

During the test flight, the un-crewed AAT could go as high as 200 metres. The entire helicopter-like vehicle itself is 2 metres in height and is manufactured by the German manufacturer Volocopter. The name stems from the 18 rotors that the helicopter-drone hybrid consists of.

The vehicle vertically lifts and lands like a regular helicopter and users will be able to book one of these vehicles through an app, where they will be able to wait for the vehicle at a “Voloport” where they can board the AAT. The taxi will also come with back-up batteries as well as a few parachutes in order to make its passengers feel safe. The AAT will be able to fly using directions from a GPS. The company will also embed full sense machines so that the AAT can avoid obstacles and other AATs in the air.

Dubai’s transport authorities expect air-taxis to be a regular part of the city’s transportation within the next five years. Until then, a US company named JDA Aviation will be overlooking the tests. As of now, this initiative will be joined by Uber as well, who has also promised that air-taxis will be a possibility in the future and will start services in Dallas as well as Dubai.

At launch, these AATs are expected to be a premium offering and will come at exorbitant fares, but considering Dubai’s luxuriously-inclined population, it does not seem like this will pose a threat.


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