Taxi-drone service ready to take off in Dubai
Two technologies with an increasing number of applications are joining forces in Dubai to provide citizens with a service that was previously only in the imagination of filmgoers: autonomous flying cars or, in other words, taxi-drones.
There are two driving forces in society that are helping innovation to achieve previously unthinkable milestones: sustainability and its need for progressively less polluting means of transportation, and the autonomy of devices. If these two concepts are joined by technology, the icing of the cake, we now have yet another breakthrough: taxi-drones, a service on the verge of being implemented in Dubai which was only dreamt of in cinema before.
I'm calling a flying cab to attend the meeting
It was announced some months ago and it seems that taxi-drones are already on its way in Dubai. This very month, it is expected that an unmanned, single-seater and electric flying model by the Chinese manufacturer EHang, developed to provide autonomous air transportation to a passenger and a suitcase, begins to navigate the skies of the city. These drones can support up to 120 kilograms and, as of yet, they have a flight range of 30 minutes or up to 50 kilometres according to their creators, which are quite respectable figures at the moment for short trips inside the city, while streamlining daily commuting and contributing to slashing pollution levels.
The process couldn’t be easier for the passenger, who steps into the vehicle, fits the suitcase, chooses its destination on the main console and the taxi-drone will carry him or her across the city through one of its pre-defined routes, taking into account previously discussed time and/or distance limitations. The model is operated from a remote control centre through 4G networks and, in the event of any issue during flight, it is programmed to land in the nearest safe zone.
In addition, during the World Government Summit held in Dubai in February, and also recently on the part of the Emirate Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), it was announced an agreement with the German aviation company E-volo, which will provide its Volocopter 2X model, an unmanned, electric two-seater plane which has been set to a test schedule that will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017. In order to expand the service, RTA expects to carry on with the schedule for about five years until legislation procedures adapt to the new scenario. This air taxi can support up to 160 kilograms, equivalent to the average weight of two people, and fly for 27 minutes at a 50 km/h speed, though it can reach 100 km/h, offering a maximum battery duration of 120 minutes.
The city of Dubai, a pioneer in the testing of new technologies, and currently planning to achieve 25% of transportation by unmanned vehicles by 2030, expects to have a regular flying taxi service very soon. Dubai’s taxi-drones could streamline daily commuting, save millions of driving hours, reduce pollution levels and, of course, shape those cities of the future that were envisioned in the most audacious pieces of literature and cinema.