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Dubai tests pilotless ‘flying taxis’
October 12, 2017, 5:06 pm

Last week, Dubai test-flew a ‘pilotless’ two-seater drone designed to transport people autonomously. Called the Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), the city claims the vehicle will be the world’s first ‘self-flying taxi service’.

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), which is responsible for all future AAT flights, has set an ambitious target for autonomous transport to account for a quarter of total trips by 2030.

According to reports, the two-meter tall AAT drone hovered at a height of 200 meters during the test flight, had a maximum flight time of 30 minutes at a cruising speed of 50kmh and a maximum airspeed of 100kmp. The RTA said it also plans to make the AAT available to the public via a smartphone app that would allow users to book flights and track routes.

Developed by Volocopter, the German manufacturer behind the eponymous 18-rotor helicopter-drone hybrid, the AAT is fitted with optional emergency parachutes and nine independent battery systems. Each battery takes two hours to fully charge, but that charging time is expected to be significantly reduced in the final production version of the taxi.

Over the next five years, the RTA will work with the country and city’s aviation authorities to develop the policies and laws for the AAT and its services, while the US company JDA Aviation will be in charge of overseeing preparations for the AAT flights and for managing safety.

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