As a part of an ambitious plan adopted by the United Arab Emirati city to lead the Arab world in innovation, Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said might soon be the world’s first drone taxi service.
The flying taxi developed by German drone company Volocopter resembles a small, -seater helicopter cabin crowned through an extensive hoop studded with 18 propellers. During its trial flight, the helicopter was clean of passengers.
Meant to fly without remote control steerage and with a maximum flight duration of the half-hour, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of problem: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case situation, a couple of parachutes.
It was unmanned for its beginning test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
Volocopter is in a race with greater than a dozen well-funded European and United States companies, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that may be a cross between a driverless electric vehicle and vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, a short-haul.
These consist of aerospace giant Airbus SE, which goals to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a corporation backed by Google co-founder Larry page; and Uber, that is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy.
Alexander Zosel, Volocopter’s co-founder and chief innovation officer, said in an interview with Reuters in advance of the Dubai trial: “We only go public when we can show you something that flies. We show facts, not visions.”
“Implementation could see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously choose you up and take you to your stop,” chief executive officer Florian Reuter said.
In this Monday’s test flight, the device fly upward around 200 meters and whirred for about 5 minutes over a windswept patch of sand astride the emirate’s Gulf coast.
The company was performed its maiden test run in a ceremony staged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
The UAE has needed to differentiate itself in a region mired in war and strife as a high-tech, forward-looking society.