Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Self-driving cars? Dubai starts testing autonomous flying taxis for passengers

Driverless hover-taxi makes first ´concept´ flight in Dubai Driverless hover-taxi makes first ´concept´ flight in Dubai
Jan Ortega | 27 September, 2017, 00:14

While the tests are conducted without a human on Board, but the test was attended by crown Prince of Dubai Hamdan bin Mohammed, who sat inside the machine on the ground.

Dubai isn't the most congested city-according to the Traffic Index released by navigation company TomTom in February, Dubai ranks 85th in the world for bad traffic-but its rulers are determined to be a hub for transportation innovation. "We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society", he added. He hailed the remarkable progress achieved in this sector through a number of landmark projects that have maintained the highest global standards while remaining true to the principles of environmental sustainability.

The drones include "luxurious interiors and leather seating" for passengers, is powered by clean energy and produces low noise levels.

The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which is essentially a giant version of a consumer drone but with seats, took off vertically without passengers and was in the air for a brief maiden voyage.

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 plan is that all these features will evolve in the production vehicles.

The AAT is a small craft: 2m in height with a rotor diameter of 7m.

The 18-rotored, white UAV still has to undergo a five-year period of testing by the emirate's Road Transport Authority and its Civil Aviation Authority before it comes into fruition. He also watched aerial shots transmitted by the airborne taxi on monitors, and reviewed the process that the RTA will follow to track the flight of the AAT. It is hoped the aircraft will play a role in having autonomous vehicles handle a quarter of all passenger journeys in the city by 2030. The helicopter is totally autonomous and wouldn't be requiring a driver onboard the flight. He praised the two organisations for their efforts to put comprehensive legislation in place before the official start of commercial AAT operations.

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