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World's first flying taxi takes off in Dubai
January 19 2018, 01:43 | Van Peters
Dubai started tests in the bid to become the first city with flying taxis
The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which is essentially a giant version of a consumer drone but with seats, took off vertically without passengers and was in the air for a brief maiden voyage.
Dubai is moving full steam ahead toward a futuristic skyline dotted with modern skyscrapers and flying taxis by kicking off trials of the Volocopter two-seater aircraft. "We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society".
Dubai has positioned itself to become the smartest city in the world with ambitions to have self-driving vehicles account for a quarter of journeys made by 2030.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai's crown prince, oversaw the empty flight during a ceremony near the upmarket Jumeirah Beach Park.
"Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country's development but also builds bridges into the future", Sheikh Hamdan said. "From a DCAA perspective, this proof-of-concept flight makes history and we are proud to be a support entity", said Michael Rudolph, Head of Aviation Regulations and Safety, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.
Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General of the RTA said the vehicle had advanced safety features including "multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls".
The AAT is fitted with optional emergency parachutes and nine independent battery systems.
The drones include "luxurious interiors and leather seating" for passengers, is powered by clean energy and produces low noise levels.
The current prototype version has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruising speed of 50 km/h, and can reach a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h.
The 18-rotored, white UAV still has to undergo a five-year period of testing by the emirate's Road Transport Authority and its Civil Aviation Authority before it comes into fruition. The RTA said the "features will evolve in the production of vehicles". It is also part of the RTA's efforts to introduce autonomous transportation services after conducting rigorous tests for these vehicles in Dubai's climatic conditions.