The unmanned flying vehicle looks and flies similarly to a helicopter, except it is smaller with only two seats and has 18 rotors. It has a maximum airspeed of 100 kilometers per hour and can fly up to 30 minutes. It is also equipped with back-up batteries, rotors, communication network, and parachutes for emergency purposes and to make its passengers feel safe. The self-flying taxi was created by Volocopter, a German drone company.
“We only go public when we can show something that flies...we show facts, not visions,” Alexander Zosel, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Volocopter, said in a previous interview.
The test flight, which was witnessed by Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, lasted for five minutes and the the vehicle was flown 200 meters above the ground. If the development of the self-flying taxi continues to be successful, it will be the first drone taxi service in the world.
“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,” said Hamdan in a statement, as reported by the Arab News. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country's development, but also build bridges into the future.”
Volocopter is one of the many companies that plans to create new forms and strategies of urban transportation for the future. (Related: Future of driverless cars: Government able to lock you in your own car to deliver you to the nearest reeducation camp.)
The UAE and Volocopter visualize that the flying taxi could be booked via an app while the passenger waits at a “voloport.”
“Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” Florian Reuter, Volocopter's chief executive officer, told Reuters.
He said that its developers intend to launch the automated taxis in the next five years.
The UAE also wants to be known as a country that is advanced, high-tech, and progressive.
In 2015, the Arab country announced its Mars Probe Mission that will send the Arab world's first unmanned spacecraft named "Hope" to Mars by 2021 for a scientific exploration.
Earlier this year, the Arab country revealed a new project called “Mars 2117 Project” which intends to build the first liveable human settlement in Mars.
“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a statement.
In addition, it was recently reported that the Arab country is planning to build a city here on Earth that will resemble the conditions in Mars, as closely as possible, as part of the preparation for UAE's Mars mission. The city will be named the Mars Scientific City and will cost about 500 million Emirati Dirhams or around $136 million. The city would be 177,000 square meters big with large domes that will house people, plants, and more. It was designed by Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, in collaboration with Emirates scientists and engineers.
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