Commuting by air
Drones have been around for more than two decades but have only grown in popularity in the last few years. Many innovative businesses are now adopting drones to their services and this includes online retail giant, Amazon, who have brought them in to monitor homes and deliver goods.
A British start-up, Autonomous Flight, is in the process of taking the technology to the next level by creating the UK’s first ever autonomous passenger drones. Driven forward by the pressing issue of congestion in the UK’s busiest cities, Martin Warner’s brainchild, the Y6S, is hoping to bring an alternative type of transport to those currently available to us.
Warner announced that early test flights of the Y6S, battery-powered pilotless flying drones, have successfully taken place around the Kent/Surrey border and could be tested with passengers on board as early as Spring this year, which indicates that it is not too far away from being available on the market. However, with an estimated price of £20,000, the vehicle will certainly not be affordable for everyone.
The passenger drone has been designed to cover a distance of Heathrow Airport to Charing Cross train station, a journey that takes approximately an hour on a normal commute in London. The flying vehicle is expected to complete this route in a much shorter time of 12 minutes.
When asked whether commuters would be safe to commute via the passenger drone, Warner said that there is a ‘fail safe’ system in place that will allow the flying vehicle to land safety even when a failure is detected. In terms of cyberattacks, he commented: “These are serialised, they're tracked, we're not flying over oceans, they're flying short distances.”
Chinese firm, Ehang, became the first to test a drone with passengers on board last year with Ehang184, a vehicle which carries a single passenger with a bag that weighs up to 100kg. The electric-powered flying taxi will operate in a similar way to Uber where users simply enter their desired destination into an app.
It is unlikely that autonomous passenger drones will make a significant impact just yet with the concept still being tested, but with technology developing as such a rapid speed and air pollution presenting a larger risk to society, travelling to work by air could become a reality in the future.