Dubai’s goal of becoming the first city in the world to be home to a flying taxi service seems like it’s coming closer to achievement, with a live demonstration of the vehicle developed by the Germany-based firm Volocopter having taken place this week.
The demonstration was put on for the sake of Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, a supporter of the broader United Arab Emirates’ push to establish itself as a “future oriented” society.
A public statement issued by Sheikh Hamdan read: “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future.”
Reuters provides more: “Meant to run without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes.
“Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and US firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-hop, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft.
“These include aerospace giant Airbus, which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page; and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy.”
On a related note, the UAE recently took receipt of a number of Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs that will be used in a new taxi service launching there. The aim is for this service to eventually utilize fully self-driving vehicles — presumably Teslas, but I would guess that choice could change if other companies were first to market with self-driving options.