Dubai Begins Test Flights for an Autonomous Flying Taxi

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 - 8:33PM
Tuesday, 26 September 2017 - 8:33PM
Dubai Begins Test Flights for an Autonomous Flying Taxi
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If any city were to get a commercially available flying car service first, it makes sense that it's Dubai. Few other places have heaps of cash to throw at an idea like this, with enough skyscrapers and rich customers to invest in a brand new flying machine technology that doesn't feature a human pilot.

The Government of Dubai has very proudly announced the ongoing testing of an Autonomous Air Taxi service, which - while not open to the public yet - is being put through its paces to ensure that the government can soon instigate a wide commercial scheme to help citizens hop between skyscrapers without breaking a sweat.

The German Volocopter prototype being used for the job has currently managed to hover 200 meters above ground during test flights, according to an official press release:

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"Powered by clean electricity and featuring low noise levels, the AAT is an environmentally-friendly vehicle. Its current prototype version has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h, and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h. All these features will evolve in the production vehicles. The AAT measures about two meters in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim, including propellers, is just over seven meters."
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While tests are currently in their early stages, Dubai's government has lofty plans for the service, anticipating that autonomous vehicles will account for a quarter of all travel within the city by the year 2030.

The current tests and trials for Autonomous Air Taxis are scheduled to take place over the next five years, during which time the technology will be put through its paces, and the city's infrastructure for air taxis will be perfected to allow everything to run smoothly once the flying cars are ready to be put into active service.

Dubai is far from the first city to see tests of autonomous flying cars - plenty of other companies are also designing their own versions of this technology, and are looking to solve the biggest challenges with making rides as smooth and event-free as possible.

That said, Dubai is unique in already planning for the logistical challenges of providing this service, meaning that the city probably will be the first in the world to start treating robot flying cars like expensive Ubers.

Dubai might become the first city to embrace electric, autonomous flying taxis en masse, but it almost certainly won't be the last. Plenty of other rich, bustling skyscraper cities around the world will similarly benefit from this technology, although it's worth assuming that trips in these flying cars won't come cheap. Breaking the law of gravity comes with a heavy fine, after all.
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