Dubai’s drone taxis are in action. The Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced yesterday that “the world’s first concept flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi (Volocopter)” had taken place. While the Crown Prince did not ride in the AAT, he launched the flight and viewed it’s progress on monitors after being briefed by the RTA, Dubai’s transportation authority, on how the drone taxi would be integrated into the transportation system.
Drone taxis, or AATs, are just the latest innovation that the country has implemented in its commitment to be the “smartest city” in the world and to reach its goal of 25% “autonomous journeys” by 2030.
“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,” said HH Sheikh Hamdan. “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.”
“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” he added
HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA said: “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 drone is produced by German company Volocopter. “Powered by clean electricity and featuring low noise levels, the AAT is an environmentally-friendly vehicle. 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,” says the Media Office of the Government of Dubai. ” All these features will evolve in the production vehicles. The AAT measures about two meters in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim, including propellers, is just over seven meters.”
The air taxi service will be 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 AAT,” says the Media Office article.
The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority will work over the next five years to develop regulations, standards, and certification requirements for the service. The RTA has hired US-based JDA Aviation Company to oversee safety and operations. The regulatory and operations frameworks will be worldwide firsts, paving the way for autonomous air taxis across the globe.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.