Dubai is moving full steam ahead toward a futuristic skyline dotted with modern skyscrapers and flying taxis by kicking off trials of the Volocopter two-seater aircraft. The all-electric 18-rotor vehicle took to the skies for the first time over the city on Monday as the city looks to establish what would be world’s first self-flying taxi service.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The Volocopter first emerged in 2013 as an audacious electric aircraft, and has gathered quite a bit of momentum in the subsequent years through a series of successful test flights and, more recently, a US$29 million investment from Daimler. Designed to autonomously carry two passengers from point A to point B without a pilot, the Volocopter in its current form can fly for 30 minutes at a time with a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).Dubai announced its plans to trial the Volocopter back in June, and has rebranded it as the Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) for its purposes. It is hoped the aircraft will play a role in having autonomous vehicles handle a quarter of all passenger journeys in the city by 2030.
The crafts are fully electric, with 18 rotors and nine independent battery systems that can pick up the slack to keep the craft in the air if anything fails mid-flight. Volocopter claims the quick-charge battery can be fully juiced in as little as 40 minutes for a max flight time of about 30 minutes. That’s at the standard cruising speed of 50 km/h (around 30 mph) and a top speed of 100 km/h (about 62 mph).
Gov. Brian Sandoval stopped by UNR on Friday to sign several pieces of legislation, including a bill that gives autonomous cars more freedom on the road and a measure providing more than $40 million in funding for a new engineering building at UNR.Sandoval arrived at UNR in an autonomous car provided by the university. He was met by UNR President Marc Johnson as well as a number of Nevada cheerleaders, engineering students and professors.AB69 allows for self-driving cars to navigate the streets with only passengers inside.
The conductor-free TGVs (the French acronym for high speed trains) would bring self-driving tech to some of the fastest vehicles in the world, which regularly travel at speeds around 200 mph. The trains are projected to hit the tracks in 2019 for prototype testing, according to a FranceInfo report, and will only transport cargo to start. The TGVs could take on passengers by 2023 for routes between Paris and southeast France.
First Transit will join GoMentum Station and use the facility as a test site for innovative transit applications, including a pilot project with EasyMile and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to deploy the first SAV shuttle on public roads in the U.S. The pilot project, which began in late 2016, recently launched the second phase of testing at Bishop Ranch, an office park in San Ramon, Calif.
While self-driving cars are regularly in the news, we haven’t heard as much noise on the autonomous shipping front, which could have equally far-reaching ramifications. Now Norwegian company Yara has teamed up with maritime technology company Kongsberg to build the world’s first all-electric and autonomous container ship, which is set to hit the high seas late in 2018.
E-volo isn’t the only company working on flying cars, VTOLs, or a flying taxi service. Popular ridesharing company Uber has been working on one, too. Big companies and startups alike have been testing their own flying vehicles: there’s industry veteran Airbus, Larry Page’s Zee.Aero, and a Chinese startup called Ehang. More options should make the tech increasingly more affordable.