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29-09-2017 | Mobility Concepts | News | Article

Autonomous Air Taxi from Germany Flies in Dubai

Sven Eisenkrämer

The world’s first autonomously flying air taxi has completed its first test flight in Dubai. Within just a few years, the Volocopter from Bruchsal, Germany, could already be used in the Emirate on a massive scale. 

As announced by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), the two-seat Volocopter 2X completed its maiden autonomous test flight on 25 September 2017 in the megacity. According to media reports, the electric-powered aircraft with its 18 rotors flew without a hitch between high-rise buildings around Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Park for roughly eight minutes. The Volocopter, which is being developed outside Karlsruhe, Germany, with the participation of companies including Daimler and Intel, is thus the first autonomously flying air taxi that is being tested under real-life conditions.

Thanks to its computer systems, the light-weight, helicopter-like vehicle made in Bruchsal by Volocopter GmbH flies completely autonomously and is solely electrically powered. The Baden-Württemberg-based company had won a competition in June 2017 by the Emirate for its Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) concept and was awarded the contract to test-fly it in Dubai.

Framework conditions for autonomous air taxis should be in place in five years

According to the Emirate’s plan, the RTA, together with the civil aviation authorities of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will establish the framework conditions for the operation of AAT services over the next five years. This includes, among other things, enacting laws and directives, defining flight routes and corridors, planning suitable start and landing points, and formulating the safety standards for AATs.

Volocopter GmbH had just announced in August to have raised 25 million euros in a round of financing that included investments from the Daimler automotive group and the Berlin-based technology investor Lukasz Gadowski. Intel is also involved in Volocopter through its drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies.

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