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RTA to test autonomous air taxis in Q3 2017

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed an agreement to start testing out autonomous air taxis in the fourth quarter of the year

RTA has signed an agreement with Germany-based Volocopter.
RTA has signed an agreement with Germany-based Volocopter.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has signed an agreement to start testing out autonomous air taxis in the fourth quarter of the year.

The agreement was signed with Volocopter, a Germany-based specialist manufacturer of autonomous air vehicles, according to Arabian Business.

Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of RTA, said: “The official operation hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislation necessary for operating autonomous aerial vehicles.”

Al Tayer added that during the trial period, all aspects relating to the operation as well as security and safety of the autonomous aerial taxi will be verified and checked.

Environment-friendly and powered by clean electricity, the vehicle will have very low noise and will reach a maximum flight time of nearly 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 kilometre per hour (km/h).

It will also be fitted with a full aircraft emergency parachute, nine independent battery systems, battery quick-change and plug-in system, and fast battery charging time of 40 minutes.

Earlier this year, the authority said that it will not begin commercial service of driverless flying taxis until it gets a safety certification and is working with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to develop the legislative and operational guidelines in the emirate.

The RTA also signed an agreement to buy 200 electric vehicles from US-based Tesla Inc. in February which will be fully fitted with autonomous driving technology.

The first orders of the Model S and Model X vehicles were said to be delivered in Dubai by the summer.

The driverless flying taxis are part of Dubai government’s 2030 initiative, unveiled in April 2016, which aims to have 25% of the emirate’s transport to be autonomous by 2030.

The strategy also aims to generate economic revenues and savings of up to $5.99bn (AED22bn) a year.

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