The Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has tested E-Volo’s Volocopter as a hover taxi for the first time ever, hoping to offer the relevant service to their citizens soon. This is another leap taken, with the autonomous flight and drone technology being now mature enough to be actually utilized in urban transportation.
The realization of such a futuristic feat didn’t happen overnight though. E-Volo is a Germany-based company that has been developing large drones capable of lifting humans up in the air from 2011 when their vision took its first shape with the prototype VC1. Five years after this, came the Volocopter, the first ever purely electric multicopter that features a cockpit that is large enough for two people, and is compliant with all international air traffic regulations. Although it can be flown by a pilot, the Volocopter is also equipped with a sophisticated autonomous flight computer that makes it possible to perform transport of non-piloting persons via the air and even during harsh weather conditions.
The Volocopter is very safe, even having an emergency ballistic parachute for the case that something is wrong during flight, has eighteen individual propellers, while there are also nine independent battery systems so failure in a couple of them won’t affect the multicopter’s performance. The benefits for the city of Dubai include the fact that the Volocopter is almost completely quiet (65 dB at 75 m), doesn’t generate any emissions, and finally it is helping mitigate the traffic congestion on the streets. Users can order a hover taxi ride by simply using their smartphone and have it summoned on the nearest available landing pod. The maximum speed of the Volocopter is 100 km/h (62 miles/h) and its maximum flight time is up to 30 minutes, reaching a maximum range of 27 kilometers (17 miles). The charging of the 9 Lithium-Ion batteries takes only 40 minutes to complete while the cells are air cooled when in flight. The weight of the two passengers combined can be up to 160 kg.
The test flight that took place in Dubai this Monday didn’t involve any passengers, but since it was deemed successful the next flights will be transporting people as well. RTA plans to incorporate hover-taxies in their public transport network which is already quite rich with metros, trams, and buses. You can never have enough awesomeness in Dubai though, so hover-taxies based on the amazing Volocopter is the way to go right now.