Dubai’s Pilot less drone are primed for takeoff later this year.

Always stepping ahead of the innovation curve, the future city adds another space age services- Autonomous Passenger drones.

The announcement of the pilot less drone capable of carrying a passenger made waves all over the world back in February. Finally, the autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) service is officially on track. Its design comprises 18 rotors to ensure safe cruising and landing of the taxi in case of any rotor failure, said RTA.

The city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) just announced a new testing schedule for the program and signed a new deal with German aviation company Volocopter, which will provide the aircraft for the program.

“The test run is in the implementation of the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest city worldwide,” said Mattar Al-Tayer, Director-General, and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.

He also added that the movement will lead to a strategy that seeks to transform a quarter of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into autonomous transport by 2030.

The pilot less drone taxis will fly passengers on predetermined routes throughout the city lasting up to 30 minutes or 50km, traveling at speeds up to 160km per hour. The test drive will start sometime during the fourth quarter of this year. The RTA expects to continue on a trial basis for about five years until the proper legislation is in place for a bigger expansion.

Operating the autonomous drone taxi is trouble free. Select your destination through a touch screen and the drone is then auto-piloted from the command center. It is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity, and it has very low noise.

Volocopter claims the AAT has a variety of features highlighted by top security and safety standards, and multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics, and flight control.

At first, Dubai used  Ehang 184, a 500-pound, single-seat passenger drone. The cause of switching to Volocopter aircraft is unknown. However, the Volocopter 2X will be used as trials. Being a two-seater, the Volocopter is considered as better drone than Ehang 184.

According to the source, quick-charge battery can be fully charged in as little as 40 minutes for a max flight time of about 30 minutes. That’s at the standard cruising speed of 50 km/h (around 30 mph) and a top speed of 100 km/h (about 62 mph).

Details: About Volocopter’s VC200 and 2X

  • VC200 took its first crewed flight last year.
  • Its first production model ‘2X’ was unveiled at AERO Friedrichshafen in Apr’17.
  • The 2X  maximum flight time is 27 minutes at an optimal cruise speed of 31 mph.
  • 2X has a maximum range of 17 miles when flying at a speed of 43mph.
  • But if the range were no concern, the 2X can fly at a maximum speed of 62mph.

Deals: Other aviation deals struck in Dubai

Volocopter won’t be the only flying taxi service droning through Dubai’s airspace.

  • RTA Dubai also recently partnered with the Chinese drone company Ehang to test its single-person quadcopter as a transit alternative.
  • Uber through its flying subsidiary Elevate, is also in talks with the emirate city to publicly demonstrate its own flying taxi service in 2020.

Dubai isn’t only testing the autonomous drones but also another interesting transit alternative – tube-based travel.

The city is currently working with Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One, the futuristic transportation start-up, for building the first passenger-ready Hyperloop in the world.

Designers imagine the Dubai Hyperloop to be a transportation system that is both ultrafast and smartphone-based on-demand service, similar to Uber.


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