Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed an agreement with Germany-based Volocopter – a specialist in the manufacture of Autonomous Air Vehicles (AAV) – to launch the first AAV capable of carrying two passengers.
The RTA has also extended the test run period of its first ever manned Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) developed by Volocopter in order to meet safety and security requirements for this particular type of aerial vehicles. The trial operation of the air taxi will begin in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“The test run of the first Autonomous Air Taxi capable of carrying two passengers 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,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
“It also comes as part of the RTA’s efforts to provide autonomous transportation by conducting the required technological tests of the vehicles under the climatic conditions of Dubai. The move also echoes Dubai’s smart autonomous mobility strategy that seeks to transform a quarter of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into autonomous transport by 2030.
Innovative transit modes
“Another objective is to enhance the integration between mass transit modes and people’s happiness by providing smooth, fast and innovative transit modes,” he added.
“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 characterised by autopilot or autonomous flying, thus enabling the movement of people from one place to another without human intervention or a need for flight licence holder,” continued Al Tayer.
“A delegation from the RTA visited several autonomous air vehicle manufacturers, and the German Volocopter company was selected, thanks to its compliance with 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.
Trial run of AAT in Q4
“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 and 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,” explained Al Tayer.
“The RTA strives to provide the best autonomous aerial taxi transit system in the emirate of Dubai in cooperation with flagship companies from around the world. 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 so 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. In coordination with its strategic partners and in the emirate [Dubai], the 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.
“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,” Al Tayer added.
Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) specifications
- Volocopter’s Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) has a variety of unique features highlighted by top security and safety standards, and multiple redundancies in all critical components such as propellers, motors, power source, electronics and flight controls.
- The AAT is also fitted with a full aircraft emergency parachute, nine independent battery systems, battery quick-change and plug-in system, and fast battery charging time of 40 minutes.
- The AAT is characterised by luxurious interiors and features leather seating for two people. The aircraft is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity and emits very low noise.
- It has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50km/h, and a maximum airspeed of 100km/h.
- The AAT measures about two metres in height, and the diameter of the rotor rim, including propellers is about seven metres.