Dubai is now one step closer to launching the world’s first flying taxi service. On Monday, Volocopter successfully tested its two-seater Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which hovered for about five minutes approximately 200 meters off the ground. The vehicle resembles a small helicopter topped with 18 propellers, and it’s powered entirely by electricity.
Volocopter‘s AAT prototype is remarkably quiet, and it has a cruise speed of 50 km/h and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h. In total, the drone taxi measures two meters in height and it has a diameter (including propellers) of just over seven meters. When it’s officially launched, the AAT will be able to fly without remote control guidance and take trips up to 30 minutes at a time. In case of trouble, there are a number of fail-safes – including backup batteries, rotors, and even built-in parachutes.
“Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” said CEO of Volocopter, Florian Reuter. “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way.”
Venture Beat reports that the test flight occurred during a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country‘s development but also builds bridges into the future,” said Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement. “This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.”
Volocopter plans to launch a flying taxi service in Dubai within five years. Time is ticking, as more than a dozen, well-funded firms in the U.S. and Europe are developing their own high-tech flying vehicles.
Images via Dubai Media Office