Autonomous Flying Taxis Are Coming to Dubai This Year
The concept of a helicopter is nothing new to any of us, but it's a different story when you're summoning one to pick you up after your next night out.
Volocopter, a German aviation startup, has just formalized a deal with Dubai's Road and Transport Authority (RTA) to begin testing of its vehicles, which are essentially personal flying taxis. Volocopter's vehicles aren't just autonomous helicopters that will come to pick you up, however—they are actually 18-rotor multicopters that are much more Jetsons than traffic 'copter.
This testing will begin in late 2017, and will last about five years. According to Volocopter's co-founder Alexander Zosel, the company was chosen by the RTA because of their "stringent safety standards." And, with a driverless multicopter theoretically flying around cities in traffic, scooping people up, it's good to know that they're focused on keeping crashes to a minimum.
While the Volocopter is able to fly autonomously, it is also able to be piloted by a human, which has helped in its development, as you can see in its first crewed flight:
Volocopter is just one of the flying taxi services being developed right now in Dubai. While Dubai is currently considering implementing the hyperloop, there are also multiple businesses, including Ehang, a drone company from China, and Uber who are working on autonomous flying taxis.
Transportation is changing. Ten years ago electric cars were revolutionary, and now hybrids and full-electric vehicles are everywhere. It has been a long-awaited fantasy to realize flying cars, and these autonomous drone taxis are almost here. It's still going to be a struggle implementing such a vehicle into a fairly grounded roadway system; the issue of infrastructure remains. However, as overcrowding continues to clog our roadways, and flying cars remain one of the coolest options (scientifically speaking), it's about time that we explore all of the alternatives.