Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said trials for an autonomous air taxi (AAT), which is capable of carrying two passengers, will start in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The authority has signed an agreement with Volocopter, a Germany-based specialist manufacturer of autonomous air vehicles for this purpose.
This comes after the February announcement in which the RTA said that it had partnered with China’s Ehang Company to test run an autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying a human.
It os not known if the Volocopter is an addition to or replacement for the Ehang air taxis.
Whilst the service was planned to be operational by July, the authority has said the service will be launched only after getting all safety approvals. The flying cars need to be certified before they are put into commercial operations, it said.
Previously, RTA also said it is in talks with UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the federal, autonomous body set up to oversee aviation-related activities in the country, for completion of the certification process.
The copter-like Dubai Drone Taxi will be able to withstand all weather conditions, except thunderstorms, and will be reasonably priced, according to RTA.
The flying taxis will be capable of carrying one passenger, who operates the drone using a touchscreen in front of his seat to select his desired location from a map displaying places in the form of dots.
The passenger is then automatically whisked to his destination according to the preset routes, which are monitored and controlled by a ground control station connected to the vehicle by 4G.
The vehicle is fitted with eight main propellers, where each propeller would operate at a time. In the case of any failure in the first propeller, there would be seven other propellers ready to complete the flight and a smooth landing, Al Tayer said.
The drone taxi is designed to fly for maximum 30 minutes can cruise at a maximum of 160 km/h, with a standard speed of 100 km/h.
The drones will be seen flying at a maximum of 3,000 feet in the sky and all weather conditions, except a thunderstorm, according to RTA. The battery life is designed to last 1-2 hours and is fitted with sensors for landing and navigation.
The driverless flying taxis are part of Dubai government’s 2030 initiative, unveiled in April 2016, which aims to have 25% of the emirate’s transport to be autonomous by 2030 and generate economic revenues and savings of up to $5.99 billion (Dhs22 billion) a year.