The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has extended the test run of its manned Autonomous Aerial Taxi (AAT) to meet all the operational requirements of safety and security for this type of vehicles. RTA also announced the signing of an agreement with the German Volocopter company, a specialist in the manufacturing of Autonomous Air Vehicles, to launch the first Autonomous Air Taxi capable of carrying two persons.
The trial operation of this taxi will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017. RTA expects the trial run to continue and follow up the issuance of the legislations required to operate such kind of vehicles for about five years during which all operational aspects would be assessed, and security and safety issues verified. The official operation hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislations governing this type of autonomous aerial vehicles.
HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that the test run of the first Autonomous Air Taxi capable of carrying two persons is in implementation of the directives of His Highness 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. The move also echoes the Dubai 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. The air taxi is characterized by its autopilot or autonomous flying, thus enabling the movement of people from one place to another without human intervention or a need for a flight license holder,” continued Al Tayer. “The German Volocopter Company was selected thanks to its compliance with the international safety and security standards, and passing the rigorous standards of the German Aviation Authority, which applies the highest safety and security in designing and operating aircrafts,” explained Al Tayer.
“The RTA is working with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to develop the legislative and operational guidelines, define specifications and standards applicable to operators in the emirate such that these legislations will be ready before the date set for the commercial and official operation of the autonomous air vehicles. It is noteworthy that the operational and legislative structures will be the first of their kind worldwide. It will coordinate and cooperate with its strategic partners in the Emirate in setting the routes of these aerial vehicles, take-off and landing points of these taxis as well as the logistics needed.
Specifications of the Autonomous Air Taxi
The Autonomous Air Taxi has a variety of unique features highlighted by top security & safety standards, and multiple redundancy in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls. 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.
The AAT is characterised by luxurious interiors and leather seating for two passengers. It is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity, has very low noise. It has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h, and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h. The AAT measures about two meters in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim including propellers is about seven meters.