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Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is trialling an Autonomous Air Taxi

Dubai Roads and Transport Authority is trialling an Autonomous Air Taxi

Photo credit: Dubai RTA

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that it is extending the test run of manned Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT). The RTA also signed an agreement with the German Company,  VOLOCOPTER, a specialist in the manufacturing of Autonomous Air Vehicles. The trial operation of their taxi, capable of carrying two passengers, will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017.

According to RTA, VOLOCOPTER company was selected because of its compliance with international safety and security standards, as well as the rigorous standards of the German Aviation Authority.

The AAT’s autopilot or autonomous flying will enable the movement of people from place to another without human intervention or a need for flight license holder.

The AAT has a variety of features intended to ensure safety, including multiple redundancy in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls. It 18 rotors will ensure safe cruising and landing of the taxi in case of any rotor failure.

It is also fitted with a full aircraft emergency parachute, nine independent battery systems, battery quick-change & plug-in system, and fast battery charging time of 40 minutes.

It is environment-friendly as it is powered by electricity and has low noise levels. It has a a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h and a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h. The AAT measures about two meters in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim including propellers is about seven meters.

RTA is working with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to develop the legislative and operational guidelines required for operating the AAT. Specifications and standards applicable to operators in the emirate will be defined. These legislations are expected to be ready before the date set for the commercial and official operation of the autonomous air vehicles. These operational and legislative structures will be the first of their kind worldwide.

RTA will specify the air routes of journeys, take-off and landing points of these taxis as well as the logistics needed to ensure safe and smooth mobility of passengers. RTA will forge additional partnerships with other manufacturers of autonomous air vehicles after ensuring their fulfilment of the specifications and standards of air safety approved in Dubai.  

This trial is a part of Dubai’s Smart City plans and the RTA’s efforts to provide autonomous transportation by conducting the required technological tests of those vehicles under the climatic conditions of Dubai. Dubai’s Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy seeks to transform a quarter of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into autonomous transport by 2030.

HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA said, “In the final quarter of this year, the RTA will launch the trial run of the AAT, and the experimental phase is likely to continue, with the follow up of the issuance of the legislations required to operate such a kind of vehicles for about five years. During the trial period, all aspects relating to the operation as well as security & safety of the autonomous aerial taxi will be verified and checked. The official operation hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislations necessary for operating autonomous aerial vehicles.”

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