New Delhi: In a big step towards commercially launching self-flying air taxis, Dubai on Monday began testing Volocopter – its Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT). Expected to become the first service of its kind within five years, the AAT took off for its maiden test flight near the Jumeirah Beach Park.
During its test, the Volocopter hovered off the ground at a height of 200 meters for five minutes before making its descent.
Fitted with 18 propellers, the Velocopter – developed by German drone firm Volocopter – is a two-seater flying taxi with an airtime of 30 minutes, cruise speed of 50kmph and top speed of 100kmph. At about two meters high, it would be able to ferry its passengers without remote guidance. An app for users is also being developed to order a Volocopter to the nearest Voloport.
Safety has bee given top priority and the AAT comes equipped with nine different batteries which require 40 minutes to fully charge. There are recovery options as well in case of a complete power failure. Full-sense capabilities and a system that helps the Volocopter avoid unknown obstacles is also being developed. And just in case, there are two parachutes as well.
Dubai has been aggressively pushing to get a quarter of all its land-based transportation to switch to self driving modes by 2030. It is also framing commercial guidelines for autonomous aerial transporation.