Middle East, News

Autonomous flying taxi trials to begin this year: RTA

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will begin the trial of unmanned air taxis in the fourth quarter of this year, it was revealed on Monday. 

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In addition, the RTA has also announced an agreement with the German VOLOCOPTER Company; a specialist in the manufacturing of autonomous aerial vehicles, to launch the first vehicle capable of carrying two passengers.

“The Autonomous Air Taxi (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 characterised 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 HE Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, RTA.

He added, “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 apply the highest safety and security in designing and operating aircrafts.”

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. This will follow with the issuance of the legislations required to operate such a kind of vehicles for “about five years,” according to Al Tayer.

“The official operation hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislations necessary for operating autonomous aerial vehicles,” he added.

“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 vehicles.”

He concluded by adding that the 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.

The AAT is charcterised by luxurious interiors and leather seating for two people. It is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity, and creates very little 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 approximately seven metres.

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