Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what could soon possibly be the world's first drone taxi service in the world, as per a report by Reuters. The taxi looks like a small, twin-seater helicopter cabin which is topped by a wide hoop powered by 18 propellers. The test was seen by Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, who pressed the operation button to launch the drone taxi up in the air. "This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change". The RTA says it will put a number of regulatory structures in place-it has to set safety standards, designate routes, figure out take-off and landing points, and more, for what they're dubbing the Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT).
The CEO Volocopter Florian Reuter, while talking to the ceremony, told that these state-of-the-art taxis would be launched in the metropolitan city of Dubai, within five years. "We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society", he added.
The German-made Volocopter prototype takes two hours to fully charge, and can fly for about 30 minutes at a cruising speed of roughly 30 miles per hour.
The project is part of a drive to make Dubai the the world's "smartest city", one of its key goals is to improve integration between Dubai's mass transit modes to allow fast and innovative transportation.
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Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General of the RTA said the vehicle had advanced safety features including "multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls".
Nine independent batteries take two hours to reach full charge in the prototype, but charging time is expected to go down in the production version. The RTA said the "features will evolve in the production of vehicles". Users will eventually be able to use an app to request pickups at nearby voloports, with connections to Dubai's other public transport systems such as the metro, tram, and marine transport.
The Dubai administration has started testing a driverless flying taxi service for passengers.