German Volocopter to hit Dubai sky as "pilotless" taxi

2017-06-19 10:41:02 GMT2017-06-19 18:41:02(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DUBAI, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said here on Monday it has signed an agreement with Germany's Volocopter company, a specialist in the manufacturing of Autonomous Air Vehicles, and plans to kick off the trial operation of this taxi in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Volocopter is capable of carrying two passengers, said RTA in its e-mailed statement. RTA also said it extended the test run of the manned Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) to meet all operational requirements of safety and security.

"The test run is in implementation of the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest city worldwide," said Mattar Al-Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.

Al-Tayer added that "the move also echoes Dubai's Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy that seeks to transform a quarter of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into autonomous transport by 2030."

The AAT is powered by electricity and has high safety features, thanks to its design comprising 18 rotors to ensure safe cruising and landing of the taxi in case of any rotor failure, said RTA.

"The air taxis is characterized by its autopilot or autonomous flying, thus enabling the movement of people from place to another without human intervention or a need for flight license holder," explained Al-Tayer.

The Autonomous Air Taxi has a variety of features highlighted by "top security and safety standards," and multiple redundancy in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls, the Dubai transport authority said.

"It is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity, and it has very low noise. It has a maximum flight time that is approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h, and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h," said RTA.

Earlier in April, Michael Rudolph, the head of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority's Airspace Safety Section, told Xinhua on plans to introduce AATs in the emirate.

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