Dubai tests drone taxi service
In a week where taxi firm Uber have found themselves in hot water, facing the withdrawal of their service in London, across the world Dubai have been taking huge steps forward in the autonomous travel sector with the test of a new drone taxi service.
Dubai, famed for luxury shopping and skyscrapers, is quickly building a reputation for being one of the smartest cities in the world. The first test of the autonomous air taxi service is a testament to this as Dubai hope for the drone taxi service to be rolled out, eventually becoming a city-wide transport system.
The two-seater, 18-rotor vehicle which is able to taxi passengers unmanned is the creation of German firm Volocopter who have confirmed that they hope to have their drone helicopters up and running as viable taxi services within the next five years.
Chief executive of Volocopter Florian Reuter said, "Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next Voloport near you," He continued, "The Volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination."
The flight, which carried the Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, lasted about five minutes, travelling just 200 metres in the air – but worked none the less.
The Volocopter is powered by nine batteries which should allow it to have a flight time of around 30 minutes – certainly enough time to transport customers around the city. The concept is that in the initial stages the drone will pick up passengers at designated “Voloports”, but that in the future it might be possible for pick-ups to be extended to private addresses.
Naturally there have been concerns voiced about the introduction of unmanned vehicles carrying passengers, but the Volocopter has been fitted accordingly with back-up batteries, rotors and even a pair of parachutes… It would seem, though, that Dubai is confident in the technology, and it has been endorsed by the Crown Prince himself.
In a statement following the maiden drone test HH Sheikh Hamdan stressed the importance of future technologies and travel infrastructure, commenting “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,”
Whilst the implantation of the technology is still some way off there is no doubt that the success of the test flight has proven that it may well be possible in the future.