The Volocopter Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) staged a test flight for the world’s first self-flying taxi service, set to be introduced by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA). The two-seater AAT is capable of transporting people without human intervention or a pilot.
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who witnessed the test flight, said: “After the remarkable success of the first driverless metro in the region, we are glad to witness today the test flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi. This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.”
He added that adopting advanced innovative technologies and applications that help to enhance services for the community is key to topping global competitiveness rankings.
“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” he said.
His Highness stressed the importance of the transportation sector, which he said is a vital driver of the development process and an indicator of the “level of advancement of the nation”.
HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, commented: “The Autonomous Air Taxi has a variety of unique features that include top security and safety standards, and multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls. It is also fitted with optional emergency parachutes, nine independent battery systems, and a battery quick-charge and plug-in system, which takes two hours to reach full charge in the prototype version, a time that will be significantly reduced in the production version.”
The Volocopter AAT is powered by clean electricity and features low noise levels. 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 metres in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim, including propellers, is just over seven metres.
Volocopter CEO, Florian Reuter, is quoted as saying: “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way.” He added that developers aim to initiate the taxis within five years.
Public transport: Driving change
The flying taxi service will be made available to the public through a smart mobility app. The app will allow customers to book flights, receive booking reference details and track the route of the taxi.
Over the next five years, the RTA will collaborate with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that the operational requirements for implementing AAT services are put in place. These requirements include developing laws and policies governing certification of the aircraft and AAT operations at an Emirate and Federal level, defining aerial routes and corridors, designing and locating take-off and landing points, setting standards for official operators of AAT services in Dubai, identifying the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and specifying security and safety standards for the AAT.
Al Tayer revealed that the RTA has appointed US-based JDA Aviation Company, an autonomous air-vehicle safety specialist, to oversee preparations for AAT flights and manage safety. The trial operations and the process of developing legislation for this type of vehicles will stretch across five years, during which comprehensive operational, security and safety measures will be put in place, noted Al Tayer.