Dubai will begin trialling self-driving air taxis this year

2017 will see the RTA trial helicopters capable of carrying two passengers across the city

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It’s actually happening. Self-driving, aerial taxis are going to be hitting Dubai’s airspace before the end of 2017.

The RTA has confirmed that a partnership with German tech specialist Volocopter will see trials taking place in the fourth quarter of the year. In a gradual rollout of the trial, RTA will be testing the Autonomous Air Taxi – a two-seater aircraft capable of zipping along at 100 km/h.

For now, the maximum flight time will be approximately 30 minutes while the RTA and Volocopter determine the ideal specifications for the conditions of Dubai. Its electronic power supply takes 40 minutes to charge, with nine different batteries on board helping to ensure maximum safety and recovery options in case of a power failure.

Of course a big discussion will be the legality, insurance and safety of self-flying helicopters as a mode of public transport, so the RTA is working closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to “develop the legislative and operational guidelines, define specifications and standards applicable to operators in the emirate.”

Dubai will be the first city in the world to develop commercial guidelines, frameworks and policies on autonomous aerial transport. It all forms part of the city’s strategy to transform a quarter of all Dubai transportation to self-driving by 2030, and it’s surprisingly soon for us to be hearing news of imminent trials. Nonetheless, we can’t wait to see these things in action!

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