(ANTIMEDIA) — Technology is once again pulling us further into a world we used to think was impossible, a world previously experienced only through science-fiction novels and movies. By the end of this year, autonomous air taxis will be carting travelers around the city of Dubai. That’s right — flying cars are here.
German aviation startup Volocopter recently announced that it signed a deal with the Dubai government’s “Roads and Transport Authority” (RTA) to start the world’s first test run of a flying taxi service. “The test will start in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the project has been scheduled to run for five years,” Alexander Zosel, co-founder of Volocopter, said in the press release. “We are very grateful and proud that the RTA has selected us as their partner after rigorous testing,” he added.
According to the press release, an estimated 25% of all passenger travel will be conducted through the autonomous taxi service by 2030. The Volocopters are furnished with “luxurious interiors and leather seating for two people,” and have a maximum flight time of 30 minutes.
As HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, explained:
“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 characterized by its autopilot or autonomous flying, thus enabling the movement of people from one place to another without human intervention or a need for a flight license holder.”
Although the Volocopter is capable of fully pilotless flight, the first five years of the test run require a human pilot on board to address all operational aspects and address potential safety and security issues.
“We now have a fantastic opportunity to work with the RTA on the development and testing of the entire future ecosystem for safe autonomous air transport using Dubai as a first showcase project,” Zosel said. “We see Dubai as the pioneer for a huge evolving market.”