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Dubai just took a flying taxi drone for its first test flight

by Alexa Liautaud
Sep 26 2017, 7:27am

If the world’s tallest building, indoor skiing, and underwater hotels weren’t enough, Dubai now wants to become the first city to have flying taxis.

United Arab Emirates officials, including Dubai’s crown prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Monday attended the first test flight of the Volocopter, a two-seater drone, capable of flying for up to 30 minutes and without a pilot. The UAE hopes to introduce the Volocopter to Dubai’s transportation authority as an “Autonomous Air Taxi,” Dubai’s media office said in a statement.

The Volocopter, made by a German drone company, is entirely electric, and has been at the forefront of a race to launch passenger drones.

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“After the remarkable success of the first driverless metro in the region, we are glad to witness today the test flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi,” Sheikh Hamdan said in the statement. “This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.”

“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies not only contribute to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” he added.

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The director of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority, Mattar Al Tayer, told local news outlets that the Volocopter had “top security and safety standards,” including emergency parachutes, nine independent battery systems, and a battery charging system.

And the wait might not be too long. The CEO of Volocopter, Florian Reuter, told Reuters that his developers hoped to get the taxis up and running within the next five years.

“It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full-sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way,” said Reuter.